Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Department of Health
Michael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
Question 597: To ask the Minister for Health if he will immediately undertake a study of the dangers of water fluoridation and the effect that this is having on the health of the population; if he will clarify the following, namely, if it is true that this practice is banned in many other European countries and that the countries that provide us the raw material to treat the water have abandoned this practice in their own countries; his view on this practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9510/12]
Róisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Labour)
The Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health advises that the balance of scientific evidence worldwide confirms that water fluoridation, at the optimal level, does not cause any ill effects and continues to be safe and effective in protecting the oral health of all age groups. There are no plans to discontinue the policy of fluoridation of public water supplies, which continues to make an effective contribution to oral health in Ireland.
A bio-monitoring study of total fluoride intake in Ireland is planned and the HSE is currently considering the establishment of a high level advisory group to provide technical and academic oversight of the study.
Water fluoridation is on the increase worldwide. It is one of the most widely studied public health policy initiatives in the world, with approximately 350 million people in some 60 countries residing in areas served by optimally fluoridated water supplies.
Water fluoridation is not banned in any country although it is not practised in most European countries. In particular, it is not banned in Spain - the country from which Ireland sources all of its fluoride - and its use is widespread in the Basque Country.
Some European countries choose salt fluoridation or milk fluoridation as an alternative to water fluoridation in their public health programmes while others use fluoride mouth-rinses and/or tooth-brushing or painting of teeth with fluorides. Additionally, all European countries promote the widespread use of fluoride toothpastes.
The USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Israel, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Argentina, Chile, and Columbia actively fluoridate water supplies.