00:00 Saturday 28 April 2012  Written by Leo McMAHON

Public health threat?

BANDON based environmental scientist Declan Waugh has called on the Government, in line with that done already by other European Union (EU) member states, to immediately end its policy of water fluoridation based on scientific knowledge that it is harmful to human health, marine life and the environment.

His case for Ireland harmonising its public health and water management policies with other EU states is outlined in a comprehensive report entitled 'Human Toxicity, Environmental Impact and Legal Implications of Water Fluoridation' which contains startling findings about the implications of adding the compound to drinking water introduced principally to prevent dental decay.

Stressing that he had no fixed opinion on water fluoridation before commencing research, Declan - the head of Enviro Management Services - said a major factor in writing the technical report was the recommendation by the British Medical Council that more robust information on the potential harm of fluoridation was needed.

'Following a review of the technical information provided by international scientific committees and over 220 peer-reviewed journals and reports (including leading US, UK and World Heath Organisation), it has become abundantly clear that the perceived benefits of fluoridation are minor compared with the acknowledged risks to public health and the environment from systemic water fluoridation', said Declan who contended there has never been any comprehensive environmental risk or dietary intake assessments carried out.

'Public policy should evolve with developments in science and research has demonstrated that continuation with the policy of fluoridation is no longer justifiable. It is absolutely certain that our policy violates both EU and international law In current economic times, it is incomprehensible that funding would be provided by the Government to continue with such an ineffective policy against the recent recommendation of the EU Scientific Committee on Health and Environment Risks.'

Simply put, states Declan, 'the benefit of fluoride for dental decay has been proven to be by the application of fluoride toothpaste on to the enamel of the tooth, not by the ingestion of fluoride into the body and its interaction in blood plasmas with the developing teeth of children'.

Never tested

An astonishing fact of his research is that, to date, products used for water fluoridation have never been tested for safety on humans nor the environment and this he argues, is illogical and unlawful. Ireland's policy, he says, is in breach of over 30 EU directives as well as

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international treaties and potential legal implications, if not addressed, are enormous for a country heavily dependent on tourism and food exports.

Declan Waugh said his investigation was undertaken in order to update the Government, European Commission and the public on recent scientific findings on the impact of water fluoridation but also for the first time the legal implications relating to the basic right of safe drinking water, food safety, consumer rights and protection of natural resources.

'Research findings have demonstrated the ability of fluoride to act as an enzymatic poison in the human body inhibiting normal critical metabolic pathways required for healthy living Apart from bones and teeth, many of the essential human organs in the body are directly affected by fluoride including the heart, kidneys, liver and pineal gland. Fluoride is now known to cause calcification in human arteries resulting in plaque formation and increased risk of stroke and heart disease'.

Elsewhere in his report, he said it was also known to be a risk factor in developing type two diabetes, osteoporosis and other disorders adding that the incidence of such diseases in Ireland was far above the global average..

''It is now known that individuals with renal disease and infants bottle-fed with formula milk reconstituted with fluoridated water are the most at risk from the impacts of fluorideParents and care providers must be allowed to make informed choices on childcare and it is inconceivable that any parent or government would willingly allow infants under one year of age to consume multiples of the daily recommended intake of a known toxic substance.

'Equally, every consumer has a right to be fully informed of the quality of the drinking water they consume and the health risks or implications of any interventions made on their behalf. Consumers in Ireland are completely aware of the impacts and it's time for Irish citizens to have the same standard of care and protection as other European citizens.'

The aggressive interactive properties of fluoride, Declan continued, sought out essential elements such as calcium and magnesium thereby interfering with their capacity to fulfil important metabolic processes in the body. Low calcium was associated with increased risk of sudden death and low magnesium seemed to be associated with a higher rate of motor neurone, hypertension and other disorders. Furthermore, it had been found that while aluminium by itself in water didn't exert toxic effects on the nervous system, it was a dangerous toxin after binding to fluoride.

Disturbing

'Given the disturbing findings regarding the neurotoxicity of fluoride, it is not beyond consideration that Ireland, regarded by many as the most fluoridated country in the world, may therefore show an association with increased neurological disorders, including epilepsy,'

Somewhat ironically, dental care was also impacted, reported Declan. Upwards of 400,000 children (under 18) were known to have dental fluorosis resulting from chronic over exposure. 'It demonstrated that fluoride added to water so that it may make contact with teeth in an attempt to reduce the incidence of dental disease, increases the concentration of fluoride in blood plasma to a level so high that it causes visible physical structural damage to teeth'. He also reported that up to 8.1% of samples taken from group water schemes were reported to have exceeded the legal limit for fluoride.

Declan's report also asserts that fluoride found in waterways and sludge, was a pollutant harmful to aquatic ecosystems and was also known to be toxic to trout and other especially juvenile salmon. Such findings were particularly of concern for a nation heavily dependent on agriculture and food production yet despite all the data produced no environmental impact assessment had been carried out.

'Is it acceptable for the Government of Ireland to continue to conduct what amounts to an uncontrolled experiment on its own people ?', asks Declan who has written to An Taoiseach, the Minister for Health, the Chief Medical Officer and others on the matter.

Summing up, Declan Waugh says: 'Clearly, the only sensible, pragmatic, scientific, moral and legal approach is to end the policy of water fluoridation immediately. Failure to do so in light of the findings of this report, would represent a gross failure of responsibility and political leadership'. Declan's report can be viewed at http://www.enviro.ie/risk.html.

Department reply

Fluoridation in Ireland dates back to legislation enacted in 1960 (1967 in Cork), The Southern Star contacted the Department of Health and its press office issued the following statement: 'The Forum on Fluoridation, which reported in 2002, advised that the fluoridation of piped public water supplies should continue as a public health measure. One of the recommendations of the Forum was to amend the Regulations regarding fluoridation of public water supplies to redefine the optimal level of fluoride in drinking water from 0.8 to 1.0 parts per million (ppm) to between 0.6 and 0.8 ppm. Regulations were introduced in 2007 to give legal effect to this change.

'The Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health, established in 2004, 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. The report of the EU Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), published in June 2011, has not made any findings of negative health or environmental effects concerning fluoridation of water. 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', the Department added.

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