Fluoride to be added to all UK tap water

February 12, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Millions of homes in the UK are soon to receive additional fluoride in their tap water. The plan, which was announced by the Health Secretary Alan Johnson this month, will set out to add the mineral to all of the UK’s water and provide us all with the free and tasteless way of (apparently) improving our health…at no additional cost.

Fluoride is a mineral found in fresh water and seawater and is known to strengthen the enamel in our teeth. There has been evidence that it significantly reduces tooth decay and the need for fillings in our teenage years and later in life. The evidence is there in front of our eyes, or rather mouths. Over the last 40 years, children in Birmingham and Manchester have been monitored and in Birmingham, where fluoride has been added to drinking water, there has been significantly fewer children developing tooth decay and requiring dental work. In Manchester, however, where there has been no additional fluoride provided there has been a significantly greater amount of dental care needed in children. The figure is roughly 15% more according to the study carried out by York University.

Over 5 million people already drink additional fluoride in their tap water here in the UK and some 500,000 are gifted with it from natural sources. Many health specialists would argue that any kind of additional imbibing of fluoride is dangerous for our health. Critics of Mr Johnson’s proposed plans have claimed that fluoride can lead to health problems which vastly outweigh a filling or two, in the form of cancer, bone diseases such as osteoporosis and kidney and urinary problems.

Mr Johnson defended the idea by saying this month that, “Fluoridation is an effective and relatively easy way to help give children from poorer backgrounds a dental boost that can last a lifetime”. He followed on to say, “We have a duty to help the areas with the worst record of tooth decay to discuss this issue and take the necessary steps to improve their dental health”.

However, a spokesman for the National Pure Water Association said in response “Fluoridation is carried out by water companies in violation of their customers’ human right to refuse consent to any medical intervention.”
This isn’t the first time the government have thought about introducing something into our diets to improve our quality of life. The ‘nanny state’ idea was last seen in 2007 when the Department of Health told us that they would be putting additional folic acid into flour sold on the shelves to prevent defects in births. Would cleaner air be too much to ask for?

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