THE Department of Health didn’t specifically respond to research warning excess fluoride in tap water can mottle teeth and cause crippling skeletal fluorosis despite Edwin Poots’ consideration of fluoridating our drinking water.
A spokesperson for the Department told the Sentinel it hasn’t responded specifically to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 2006 ‘Fluoride in Drinking Water’ report.
The Sentinel last week incorrectly dated the report to 1996, whilst quoting from the 2006 report.
After Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Simon Reid pointed this out today (September 24), the paper amended the date..
The paper’s query via a Freedom of Information request referred to the 2006 report and in this article and the original article also quote (see below) from the 2006 report.
Mr Poots’ Department’s non-response to the WHO report is in spite of Mr Poots’ favourable view of fluoridation and the possibility he will press for its introduction here.
WHO recommends a maximum fluoride limit in drinking water of 1.5 milligrams per litre and warns that whilst the chemical can prevent tooth decay it can also have significant negative effects.
It states: “Fluoride has beneficial effects on teeth at low concentrations in drinking water, but excessive exposure to fluoride in drinking-water, or in combination with exposure to fluoride from other sources, can give rise to a number of adverse effects.
“These range from mild dental fluorosis to crippling skeletal fluorosis as the level and period of exposure increases. Crippling skeletal fluorosis is a significant cause of morbidity in a number of regions of the world.”
Recommendation 3.5 of the 2007 Oral Health Strategy for Northern Ireland suggests the Department of Health work with other stakeholders to examine the feasibility of fluoridating Northern Ireland’s public water supplies. Recommendation 3.6, however, notes the introduction of fluoridation may take some time and that other strategies to address tooth decay should also be pursued.
Mr Poots has been engaging with Executive colleagues about the prospect but no research on fluoridation has been commissioned and no provisional policy drafted.