Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Safe Is Fluoride? Health& Fitness

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Safe Is Fluoride? Health& Fitness

Article excerpt

Byline: ALICE HART-DAVIS

What is fluoride?

It is an ion, derived from the element fluorine. Simple fluorides, such as calcium fluoride, occur naturally in water, but drinking water is fluoridated at 1mg per litre by the addition of hexafluorosilicic acid, a chemical by-product of the manufacture of phosphate fertilisers. It is a solution of captured hazardous air pollutants in water, and is considered too toxic to be dumped at sea or put in landfill sites, according to Jane Jones, campaign director of the National Pure Water Association (NPWA).

"This substance contains two neurotoxins - lead and mercury - as well as carcinogens arsenic and beryllium -- and this is what is being dripped into fluoridated water supplies," she says. London's water has never been fluoridated, says Thames Water.

So, why add it to drinking water in the first place?

To improve dental health. A major British study concluded three years ago that water fluoridation was linked to a reduction in tooth decay, which benefits children in deprived communities, including inner-London areas.

Children living in areas where water is already fluoridated have 15 per cent less tooth decay than those in areas where it is not, concluded the York Report.

Yet studies in other countries don't support these claims. In New York, for example, children in one area whose water was fluoridated had no less dental decay than those in another with no fluoridation.

And Basel in Switzerland is halting fluoridation of the water supply after 40 years. Experts believe the benefits are not proven and that fluoridation can damage children's bones.

Why are dentists so keen on it?

"Targeted water fluoridation is the one public-health measure that would cause the largest improvement in the oral health of those in greatest need," says Ian Wylie, chief executive of the British Dental Association. …

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