IDEA Position on Fluoridation of Water Supply in Ireland

The Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association believes that the practice of adding fluoride to the water supply in Ireland should be stopped.

We are opposed to fluoridation because:

1. Cause of Dental decay

Dental decay is caused by poor diet, including excess dietary sugar, and inadequate dental hygiene, not by a lack of fluoride.

2. Toxicity

Fluoride is a potentially toxic chemical and the difference between safe and toxic levels of fluoride is small, even for healthy people. It is classified as a ‘pollutant’ by the EU Scientific Committee on Toxicity and Ecotoxicity (CSTEE) in 2003. Adding it to drinking water contravenes the EU Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC) which was due to be implemented in Dec 2003. Article 4.2 of the Directive prohibits Member States from adopting measures leading to ‘any increase in the pollution of waters used for the production of drinking water’. Some individuals are believed to be more vulnerable to the toxic effects of the chemical, for example young children and people with poor kidney function.

3. Dose Ingested

No other medication is dispensed on the basis of thirst. Dispensing fluoride via drinking water means that the actual daily intake of any individual is unknown and varies, as it depends on the amount of water a person consumes each day. In addition, further variable amounts of fluoride will be absorbed from toothpaste, other dental products and foodstuffs that it is also present in. Further more, babies and people with no teeth are given this medication regardless of ‘need’.

4. Unknown base levels

No information is available about the base-line levels of fluoride in the Irish population before fluoridation was commenced in this country. Fluoride accumulates in the body, so that base-line levels for the chemical will already have risen in the population in areas where fluoridation was occurring.

5. Contamination

The Fluorosilicic acid used to fluoridate the water is contaminated with traces of toxic chemicals such as arsenic.

6. Prevention of dental decay by non-chemical methods

The evidence that fluoride is actually responsible for the improvements seen in the dental health of the population is equivocal. It is known that the dental health of populations living in areas without fluoridation of water supplies has also improved over the same time period that it is reported to have improved in areas with fluoridation. The improvement in non-fluoridated areas is attributed to improvements in dental hygiene, associated with improving socio-economic conditions.

The concern for passively improving the dental health of all groups of people by fluoridating their water supplies fails to address the underlying causes of their poor dental health, and in the case of lower socio-economic groups their poor health in general, that is excess dietary sugar, poor general nutrition and poor dental hygiene, often related to the deprivation and socio-economic inequity that persists and appears to be increasing in our society.

The Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association believes that there are already too many chemicals in our environment without adding more. Ireland should now stop adding fluoride to its water supplies. Instead, the country should promote improved nutrition and dental hygiene as a more common sense approach to improving dental health, while strenuously attempting to eliminate or reduce social inequity.

Updated Mar 2004

See IDEA statement page.



(2) C2/VR/csteeop/12062003/D(03)

(3) Dr C.V. Howard Sept ’03 on