14 Sep 2008

Water fluoridation consultation sham

The news is not good from Southampton re the plans to fluoridate the water. Regular blog readers will know that I am a founding member of the Safe Water Campaign for Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire which meets monthly usually in Stroud - see a leaflet I put together some years ago that outlines answers to key questions here. If you don't know the story then I would urge you to read.

Graphic: Paul Bickmore an artist at the Art House gallery in Southampton designed this excellent graphic

Anyhow the news is that the South Central Strategic Health Authority are making a mockery of consultation - it is shameful that public money can be used in this way to influence the debate. Hampshire Against Fluoridation (HAF) campaigners have described their proposal to add fluoride to Southampton's drinking water as the "peddling of quack medicine".

Worse still the BBC seem to have fallen for the nonsense and are reporting in a very one-sided manner - meanwhile the pro-fluoride lobby backed by the Government and very well resourced are now taking adverts out in the local papers and giving cards out at dentists - complaints have already gone to the Advertising Standards folk. The campaign groups in Hampshire are working wonders to try and redress the bias and get their views heard but have only tiny resources

HAF Chairman, John Spottiswoode, says, "Health Authorities want to put industrial grade hexafluorosilicic acid into our drinking water supply. This chemical has never been approved for medicinal purposes despite it fulfilling the definition of a medicinal product. Indeed, it would fail the approval process for a product licence because it is ineffective and unsafe."

The Public Consultation materials which ignore recent research showing adverse health effects from fluoride has also been described as a "sham" by campaigners. Indeed the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Fluoridation has already raised concerns (see here) about the Health Minister's support for fluoridation and the consultations (see here).

John Spottiswoode said, "The material produced by the health authority is a disgrace. It is so one-sided and biased that it gives a completely false picture to local people. South Central says that fluoride is 'natural', when in fact the hexafluorosilicic acid proposed to be used is an industrial by-product and is contaminated with nasty things like arsenic and radionuclides (particles that generate dangerous radioactivity). Drinking this devilish brew is far from natural and has enormous dangers for the health of all of us, especially babies. It is unethical to force everyone to drink this pollutant. Contrary to claims by proponents, fluoride is not a nutrient. No essential function for fluoride has been proven in humans. Health Authorities spin their biased message with words such as 'topping up' or 'adjusting the level' of 'fluoride'. Why on earth would anyone want to add to drinking water a chemical with a toxicity which approaches that of arsenic?”

Spottiswoode continued, "The behaviour of the Health Authorities is shameful. The Health Authorities push fluoride like old fashioned quacks, making unjustifiable and exaggerated claims about how good it is whilst ignoring the massive health dangers. There is no high quality evidence of a net benefit, even for teeth. The scientific case against water fluoridation is overwhelming, yet they continue to push for it. The whole episode proves to me how incompetent our health authorities have become over key scientific issues. The Boards of Southampton PCT and South Central SHA should stop wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds on a sham consultation exercise by withdrawing the water fluoridation proposal forthwith."

Here is a list of things that one person sent to me re their concerns regarding the literature:

• They use the worst figures around for Southampton 5 year old teeth (1.76 dmft) rather than the 1.23 that the ‘One in a million’ booklet had. Then claim that this means we must do something like this.
• They use ‘spin’ such as ‘adjusting the level of fluoride’. Apparently the level is ‘not sufficient to help prevent tooth decay’
• They claim fluoride is found naturally in all water. They have taken to saying this, but trace amounts are by no means the same as 1ppm, and anyway the only reason we get more than trace amounts of fluoride at the moment is because we take water from underground, where fluorine had been locked up safely for millennia. One hundred years ago our natural diet did not have fluoride to any significant level at all except in a few unfortunate places.
• They emphasise all the other places that have it, implication with no problems, and not the vast majority of the world who have rejected fluoride.
• They go into the benefits for teeth
• They discuss dental fluorosis ‘small increase’ and put in photos ONLY of very mild and mild fluorosis to show that it is no problem at all.
• They deny a link to cancer, pointing to carefully selected studies
• They deny a link to bone fractures, even implying that it could be good for bones
• They dismiss any other harmful effects
• They discuss personal choice, with a nice smiling child with an apple (all very upbeat). They refer to the Irish Supreme Court (is this relevant to us?) saying that it is a misuse of words to refer to this as mass medication
• They refer to the European Commission on Human Rights saying that fluoridation did not violate the right to privacy (did we ever say that it did?)
• They refer to all the illustrious bodies that support fluoridation

Take part in the consultation - make your views known now

Our Safe Water blogsite has details of how you can respond to the Southampton consultation - see here - it closes 19th December so there is still time - I would urge all folk to take part as I am deeply concerned that if this goes ahead here it will make it easier to fluoridate elsewhere. We are not threatened at the moment here in Gloucestershire but if this gioes through then it is clear the fluoridistas as they are known will be pushing even harder.

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