The debate over fluoridation
of water has flared up, after the Green Party declared it would stop fluoridation
if in power.
Green Party TD John Gormley
said it would be 'prudent' to stop water fluoridation in Ireland immediately.
The Expert Body on Fluorides
and Health, an official group, countered with a flat denial of the Green
claims. "There is overwhelming scientific evidence to support
the safety and efficacy of water fluoridation in Ireland," it said in a
The expert Body said that all oral health surveys showed
there had been a big improvement in dental health since fluoride was introduced
into Irish water supplies in the mid-1960s.
John Gormley, Green Party spokesman on health
At his press conference, Mr Gormley made special reference
to the use of fluoridated tap water in making up babies' bottles. He said
the American Dental Association had told parents not to use such tap water
because of the risk of fluorosis, staining and pitting of teeth attributed
to fluoride. He claimed there has been a huge increase in fluorosis here
in the past decade.
The Expert Body recommended strongly against using bottled
water to make up baby formula, saying that many waters were unsuitable because
of a high sodium ../../content.
Dr Seamus O'Hickey, chairman of the Expert Body, said that
fluorosis was only a cosmetic concern, and unlikely to be noticeable in Irish
consumers. He noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently
renewed a call for all governments to fluoridate water supplies.
"Statements which are being put in the public domain that
are not founded on proper science could cause concern amongst consumers,"
his statement said.
The Green Party claims that the Department of Health's
assessment of the benefits of fluoride is not justified. It says fluoride
toothpaste is all that is needed to combat decay in this way.
The then Minister for Health and Children, Micheál Martin,
established the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health in April 2004.
It includes dentists, public health professionals, engineers, environmentalists,
experts in toxicology and public health medicine and members of the public.