Fluoridation - Mandatory Medication of the people
BY ROISIN DE ROSA
Could it be true that phosphate fertiliser has a byproduct, so serious a carcinogen that it cannot be released into the air or water, that is disposed of by pumping it into the drinking water supply, at 1 to 4 parts per million rate? It's called fluoridation of water. And, in the 26 Counties, fluoridation of drinking water is mandatory.
Fluorosilicic acid, which is produced in the phosphate fertiliser, is a big problem to dispose of safely. It is a felony in the United States to pump it into the air or the sea. ``Human exposure to its constituents are associated with adverse carcinogenic, respiratory, nervous system, dermal, developmental and/or reproductive health effects'' (US Environmental Protection Agency).
But official USEPA policy states: ``In regard to the use of Fluorosilicic acid as a source of fluoride for fluoridation, this agency regards such use as an ideal environmental solution to a long-standing problem. By recovering by-product fluosilicic acid from fertiliser manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimised, and water utilities have a low-cost source of fluoride available to the communities.''
In 1960, the Dublin government enacted mandatory fluoridation of the water supply. This was challenged in 1963 by Gladys Ryan in the Supreme Court on the basis that water fluoridation was akin to mass medication, which she claimed was unconstitutional. She lost her case. Since then, fluoridation of the drinking water has been government policy, and 73% of water in the 26 Counties is fluoridated. The Minister has plans to extend it this year.
There is a campaign in Ireland, spearheaded by Voice (see http://voice.buz.org) to stop this fluoridation of the water supply. The 26 Counties is the only EU state to operate a compulsory fluoridation programme. ``Numerous studies have shown links to osteoporosis, bone cancer and genetic damage. It is not acceptable that three quarters of people are medicated mandatorily,'' says Patricia McKenna, Green MEP.
Last March, Sligo County Council unanimously called on the Government and Minister of Health to amend the 1960 Health Act to allow local authorities to make the final decision on whether drinking water should be fluoridated. Sligo's Sinn Féin mayor, Sean MacManus, has pointed out that ``fluoridation is ethically outrageous, that people should be compulsorily medicated''.
Last year, Dublin City Council called on the City Manager to remove fluoride from the drinking water supply. In December last year, Donegal County Council called for a suspension of fluoridation pending the report of a Joint Oireachtas Committee.
There has been strong opposition to fluoridation in the North. Twenty five out of the 26 councils in the Six Counties have declared opposition to fluoridation, and only one small town, Tandragee, is still fluoridated. Water companies in Britain have resisted government pressure to fluoridate drinking water, because they fear extremely expensive claims from those whose health has been damaged. Somewhat typically then, the British Government has committed itself ``to introduce a legal obligation on water companies to fluoridate where there is strong local support for doing so''.
At present, Britain fluoridates 10% of supplies and Spain fluoridates 3%. According to Voice, the environmentalist group, the remaining EU states have either banned or rejected it, most 20 or 30 years ago, on health grounds.
Good for Teeth?
The arguments about fluoridation boil down to two simple questions: Does it do any good to teeth, and does it have wider effects which are damaging to health.
The question of whether fluoride does teeth any good is debatable. One study showed that 48% of children in fluoridated communities have dental fluorosis, a disease which occurs through over exposure to fluoride and indicates that an enzyme in growing teeth has been damaged, so that kids develop patches on their teeth.
What is indisputable is if fluoride has beneficial effects on teeth, it is topical, (direct application to the teeth) and not systemic (from swallowing). Fluoride applied to the teeth can neutralise the bacterial action of sugar, which is the cause of cavities. This might suggest to people to choose to use fluoride toothpastes or gels.
Fluoridation of the drinking water supply means that everyone must swallow it. But fluoride is a cumulative poison. It accumulates in the pineal gland and in the bones. International research has produced enough evidence to suggest at least a strong relationship between fluoridated water and arthritis and osteoporosis. Hip fractures are prevalent amongst elderly people in Ireland, and 20% of people who are operated on for hip fractures die within the following year.
Fluoridation of water has also been shown to be correlated with bone cancer (Osteosarcoma). In 1992, the New Jersey Department of Health in the US found that bone cancer rates were three to seven times higher in fluoridated areas than in un-fluoridated areas. Scientists believe that this form of cancer in young males has a relationship with testosterone, and hypothesise that Fluoridation affects testosterone levels. Increased fluoride intake has been linked to lowered birth rates and decreased levels of sperm and testosterone, in both rats and humans, as well as to hypoactivity - the `couch potato' syndrome.
Studies also show that fluoride combines with aluminium to cross the blood brain barrier and can produce similar affects to those found in people with Alzheimer's. There is strong scientific evidence to suggest that overexposure to fluoride through drinking water is correlated with memory loss, headache, reduced concentration, depression and confusion. Reports of allergic responses to fluoridated water include skin irritations, mouth ulcers, headaches and stomach upset. It is also reported to cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Some people appear to be particularly vulnerable to fluoride's toxic effects, including the elderly, diabetics and people with poor kidney function. Is it ethical to ignore these peoples' interests?
On a Prime Time programme last February, Health Minister Mícheál Martin admitted that no study had been done into any of this since the1960 Act, although the act required that a public survey be carried out by the Department of Health. Martin proposed the ridiculous excuse that this was because Ireland's population was too small.
In response to a growing campaign against fluoridation of water, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children is to consider water fluoridation. John Gormley TD, himself a committed campaigner against fluoridation, is acting rapporteur. The committee will report later this year.
However, not content with this committee, the Minister established a 20-member forum to review water fluoridation, which John Gormley reasonably believes was set up to pre-empt his committee's report. Mícheál Martin, acknowledges that he himself is a supporter of fluoridation.
Briefing the Minister's Forum
On Friday last Professor Paul Connett, already involved in the campaign here against incineration, stepped over, yet again, from St. Lawrence University in New York, to brief Minister Martin's Forum. He gave them 50 incontrovertible reasons why fluoridation should be stopped. He pointed out in his submission that ``the chemicals used to fluoridate 90% of the water fluoridated in the US are not pharmaceutical grades. Instead, they come from wet scrubbing systems of the superphosphate fertiliser industry. These chemicals are hexaflurosilicic acid or its sodium salt. They are contaminated with toxic metals and trace amounts of radioactive isotopes.
``In other words, the public water supply is being used as a vehicle for hazardous waste.''
Professor Connett's submission ended with reference to Base Commander Ripper (from Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove), who railed against ``the international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids''.
You might doubt the communist ancestry, but there is little doubt about the effects of fluoridation on the population's bodily fluids. There are too many studies which indicate damaging consequences. ``Minister Martin should wake up to the dangers of fluoride,'' says Sinn Féin environmental spokesperson Arthur Morgan, ``and discontinue the practice immediately. Aside from scientific evidence of its harmful effects, there is no gainsaying the totally unethical practice of medicating the population, with or without their consent. It is appalling and has to stop.''