The Flouride Debate

While the mainstream media continues to under-report the growing concern in Ireland over the policy of mandatory water fluoridation, political opposition is steadily mounting to the ongoing mass-medication of the population.

After a year of lobbying, a number of Dublin City Councillors with doubts about the safety of water fluoridation recently convinced the Department of Health to provide representatives with whom they could address those concerns face-to-face.

On May 16, four members of the “Expert Body on Fluorides and Health” – a government-appointed pro-fluoridationist group consisting largely of dentists – attended a meeting of the Environment and Engineering Strategic Policy Committee of Dublin City Council. At the insistence of Sinn Fein Councillor, Anthony Connaghan, the anti-fluoridation argument was also presented at the meeting by Walter Graham, Public Relations Information Officer for the group known as Councils of Northern Ireland Against Fluoridation.

The meeting, held in City Hall, was not an opportunity to debate water fluoridation. Each side instead had 20 minutes to present its argument. Afterwards, members had two minutes each to ask questions or make points.

Dr. Joe Mullen, a dentist, presented the case for fluoridation on behalf of the Expert Body and by proxy, on behalf of the Dept of Health. Mullen made the Expert Body’s usual assertions that water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to treat dental caries (decay). Anyone who read Minister Alex White’s extensive answers to the 27 questions on fluoride published in the last issue of Hot Press will be familiar with their lines of defence.

In response, arguing that it is unsafe, undemocratic and unethical to continue force-feeding the population with fluoride, Walter Graham opened his presentation, with a quote from a statement issued by the Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters Union in Washington, and signed by approximately 1,500 scientists and other professional employees at the US EPA’s headquarters.

The union stated that a large body of evidence, including animal and human studies, indicate a causal link between fluoridation and cancer, genetic damage, neurological impairment and bone pathology, noting that recent epidemiology studies linking fluoride exposure and lowered IQ in children are of particular. concern.

During his presentation, Graham also cited the concerns raised by the National Research Council (NRC), an arm of the US National Academy of Sciences, in its 500-page review of all of the available literature on fluoride’s health effects, published in 2006. The adverse health effects acknowledged by this report include thyroid impairment; type 2 diabetes; brain damage; and dental fluorosis. It noted that all of these effects, including the possibility of bone fracture and lowered IQ in children, can occur at fluoride concentrations of 1 ppm.

In his statement, Graham added that the NRC report also noted the wide differences in water consumption across the population, meaning that the dose of fluoride received from drinking fluoridated water varies hugely from individual to individual, as does the dose received from fluoride in foods. For some people, he stressed, the fluorides received from foods alone may exceed the ‘adverse effect levels’ identified in the NRC report.

Another key plank in Graham’s case against fluoride was the evidence of Dr. Dean Burk, chief employee at the US National Cancer Institute up to the mid-’70s, and one of the most prominent cancer researchers of the 20th century. Burk conducted a study comparing the 10 largest fluoridated US cities with the ten largest non-fluoridated cities, year by year. They all had the same cancer rate until the year that fluoridation started. Then the cancer rate in the fluoridated cities started to go up. Burk concluded that the effects of all cancers were increased in any area that is fluoridated (see YouTube: ‘Dr. Dean Burk fluoride causes cancer’ for more).

Using cancer maps based on research conducted by the Irish Institute of Public Health, Graham stated that there is a much higher incidence of cancer in the fluoridated Republic of Ireland compared to non-fluoridated Northern Ireland. He added that the Republic has the worst cancer rate in Europe; we are also the only country in Europe with mandatory water fluoridation.

After the presentations, FF Councillor Deirdre Heney voiced her frustration at the fact that councillors still weren’t getting answers from the Expert Body or the government to questions they had repeatedly asked about health concerns over fluoride. Heney added that a doctor friend of hers, who’s been right on many health controversies in the past, and is based in China, had warned the councillor about the dangers of fluoridation. (One Chinese study shows lowered IQ in children drinking water with a fluoride concentration of just 0.9 ppm. Until recently, Ireland was fluoridating at 1 ppm; the current concentration is 0.6 - 0.8 ppm).

Clare Wheeler, another committee member, also expressed her dismay at the lack of real debate at the meeting, and voiced her concern over fluoride’s suggested links to osteoporosis and arthritis.

Sinn Féin Councillor Anthony Connaghan voiced his dissatisfaction with the meeting, adding that he was especially worried about the effects of the large amounts of fluoride to which formula-fed infants in the Republic were being exposed. He made the point that only seven other countries in the world fluoridate more than 50% of their population.

At the end of the meeting, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan TD, who was there to observe, raised the growing concern abroad about the level of fluoride contamination in Irish products manufactured with fluoridated tap water. According to Flanagan, fluoride contamination poses a major threat to the demand for our food and drink exports.

Afterwards, I spoke to some of the councillors.

“I thought it was a PR stunt,” said Sinn Féin Councillor Anthony Connaghan in reaction to the Expert Body’s presentation. “It seems this group is put together to give the opinion that the water should be fluoridated, and to ignore and dismiss all the evidence that’s showing health problems. At least the anti-fluoridation crowd will say, ‘Okay, fluoride may be good for the teeth if it’s used topically, but what’s happening when it goes past the teeth?’

“The onus is on Dublin City Council to protect Dublin’s citizens. If there are any doubts about the safety of fluoridation – and there are many – then we should follow the rest of Europe and end the practice.

“People who don’t know much about the subject say, ‘Ah sure, I drink water and there’s nothing wrong with me’,” Connaghan observes. “But it’s the cumulative effect over years that’s the problem – although some people may be exceptionally sensitive to fluoride and get sick much quicker. If you drink a glass of water you’ll be fine, but when you get to a certain age, your immune system isn’t as strong, your metabolism isn’t as efficient, your body isn’t as quick to heal or get rid of toxins. I think that’s when the danger really occurs.”

Where do the dissenting Dublin City Councillors plan to take the issue?

“We’re supposed to submit our questions in writing now to the Expert Body, and hope they get back to us with satisfactory answers,” he explained. “But several of us are already annoyed that previous questions we’ve already submitted have yet to be answered. There’s no guarantee that they’ll ever answer those questions, or the others that arose from the meeting. One of the questions I’ve asked is about the make-up of the Expert Body – have they got a toxicologist, have they got scientific experts other than dentists?”

Like a growing number of local and national politicians, Connaghan is determined to see this issue through. At his committee’s next meeting, which will probably be in September, he intends to propose a motion for Dublin City Council to call on the government to repeal the Fluoridation of Water Supplies Act 1960, and to make it an offence for anyone to add fluoride to the public water supply.

“If that motion goes through Dublin City Council – if the largest local authority in Ireland is so concerned that it’s calling for legislative action – that has to hold some political weight.”

I also spoke to Walter Graham.

“What I showed to the councillors,” he told me, “was a whole stack of books written by doctors, toxicologists and biochemists, all saying that fluoride does harm, backed up with published peer-reviewed studies – thousands of them. Both sides of this argument can’t be right. I’ve got books saying there are side-effects, yet the government and the Expert Body keep saying there are no side-effects. The doctors and scientists who have written these books, none of them have been sued. They haven’t been forced to take these books off the market. They’re all still available.

“I finished off by holding up Christopher Bryson’s book, The Fluoride Deception. I said, now here’s a BBC correspondent who hasn’t been sued either. He’s saying that governments are hiding the truth about these side-effects, and that water fluoridation is being driven by industry, to get rid of its toxic waste. Yet Bryson hasn’t been sued. And he’s still a BBC correspondent. If he’s lying, then his book should be whipped off the shelves. But it hasn’t been. Because everything he’s saying is backed up with documented evidence.

“So there’s all this evidence,” Graham said, “and you’re telling me that the government saying there are no side-effects is assurance enough? I’m trying to bring Dublin City Council to the point of realisation that you have to protect the population. We can’t take the chance that fluoridation is wrong – for what? Dental caries is not a contagious disease. If you lose all your teeth, you get a set of dentures and life goes on. It’s such a minor thing compared to cancer and brain damage. Yet it’s being given huge amounts of government money. Why? And who’s behind it?


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