Independent Media Centre Ireland

Water fluoridation - €4 million down the drain every year

category national | consumer issues | news report author Sunday March 04, 2012 17:28author by john lagan - none

Time to end 50 years of madness now!

Successive Irish governments have overseen the fluoridation of public water supplies since the practice commenced in 1964. This form of mass medication is supposed to benefit the nation's teeth.

Today 97% of Europe's water supply is fluoride free, including Northern Ireland, as this practice has been widely discredited. Eire remains the only country to fluoridate its entire public water supply.

The purpose of this article is to alert the reader to the financial cost of Eire's water fluoridation programme.

I am opposed to this policy on both health and financial grounds. There are numerous web sites reporting the adverse effects of water fluoridation so I'll try not to repeat these arguments here.

I asked Gerry Adams TD to find out the annual cost of Ireland's fluoridation programme, below is a summary of his reply:

I received an answer to a Parliamentary question I had submitted on this very issue. I've pasted this below for your information.

Written answers, Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Department of Health, Water Fluoridation

Gerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
Question 250: To ask the Minister for Health the amount the insertion of fluoride into water costs the State on an annual basis.
[8554/12] Rσisνn Shortall (Dublin North West, Labour)
The estimated annual spend for fluoridation nationally in 2011 is €3,865,406, broken down as follows:

Operational costs €2,392,266, Acid costs €1,387,561, Capital costs €85,579

As you can see, this programme cost the State an estimated €3.87 million in 2011, the costs for this year could well exceed €4 million.

I believe this is an outrageous waste of public money, especially in these dreadful financial times, and is literally money poured down the drain.

Fluoridating the public water supply is the most uneconomical method of delivering fluoride, as up to 50% is lost into the ground through leaking pipes
(, of the remainder that reaches people's homes, 99% is used to wash dishes, flush toilets, wash cars etc., less than 1% is actually consumed.

Ireland adopted this policy from the USA in 1960, when the Dail passed the Health (Fluoridation of Water Supplies) Act. The legislation did not come into force until 1963, due to a Supreme Court challenge by Dublin resident Gladys Ryan. Mrs Ryan argued that water fluoridation was a form of mass medication and therefore unconstitutional ( - she was right, the government was wrong, but of course the government won.

One spurious reason given by the Attorney General, 13(ii) was "that, in any event, a citizen who objected to fluoridated water could, by the expenditure of a few pounds, remove all, or almost all, the fluoride ions from the water coming through the piped water supply." This is completely untrue. The only way to remove 100% fluoride is distillation or around 98% by reverse osmosis filtration. Water distillers or reverse osmosis filters for home use currently cost from €200, and both entail annual running costs. This is a significant cost for most people today and I'm sure it would have been relatively more expensive back in 1964 when fluoridation commenced.

I asked Clare Daly TD about her views on water fluoridation. Clare is currently leading the opposition to the imposition of household and water charges, she informed me that the government's continuance of this programme is based on The Forum on Fluoridation Report 2002. Below is a summary of her reply:

Coincidently I had put down a question to the Minister on this issue, earlier this week. Below is the answer, (if you could call it that), the usual line that is trotted out without any serious consideration given to the concerns raised.

DΑIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Health (Ms. Shortall) by Deputies for WRITTEN ANSWER on 11/01/2012

* 956. To ask the Minister for Health his views on the use of fluoride in our drinking water and the associated health issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Terence Flanagan

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 11th January, 2012.

* 999. To ask the Minister for Health if he will explain the levels of fluoride in the Irish water supply; and the reason this chemical is included in view of the fact that it is banned in many countries.

- Clare Daly

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 11th January, 2012.


The Forum on Fluoridation, which reported in 2002, advised that the fluoridation of piped public water supplies should continue as a public health measure. One of the recommendations of the Forum was to amend the Fluoridation of Water Supplies Regulations, 1965 to redefine the optimal level of fluoride in drinking water from 0.8 to 1.0 parts per million (ppm) to between 0.6 and 0.8 ppm. Regulations were introduced in 2007 to give legal effect to this change.

The Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health, established in 2004, advises that the balance of scientific evidence worldwide confirms that water fluoridation, at the optimal level, does not cause any ill effects and continues to be safe and effective in protecting the oral health of all age groups. The report of the EU Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), published in June 2011, has not made any findings of negative health or environmental effects concerning fluoridation of water. There are no plans to discontinue the policy of fluoridation of public water supplies, which continues to make an effective contribution to oral health in Ireland.

This report ( has been widely criticised. For example, a detailed critique of this report, from a number of expert scientists on this subject from around the world, can be viewed at:

The current Health Minister even ignores the opposition expressed by his own profession, summarised in the Fluoridation Forum Report, Ireland 2002, as follows:

"The Irish Doctors' Environmental Association (IDEA) likewise adopted a neutral stance on the benefits of water fluoridation, and expressed its opposition to the continuation of the fluoridation of drinking water supplies. The Association has concerns regarding the addition of fluoride to the water supply, on the grounds of unknown dosage, particularly with regard to infants. It also has concerns regarding contaminants and the possible interaction of fluoride with other drugs. The Association believes that the ingestion of fluoride should be a matter of choice, and that dental decay is best prevented by dietary measures and improved dental hygiene."

Hence I believe only a financial approach for the abandonment of public water fluoridation would be given any serious consideration by the present government, including the following points:

1) In these dire financial times a significant annual cost to the tax payer can be made.

2) Europe is 97% fluoride free (

3) Irish doctors are opposed to this policy and in particular are concerned regarding the interaction of fluoride and associated heavy metal contaminants with prescription drugs.

4) Irish citizens should have the right to choose whether or not they want to use fluoride to prevent tooth decay. The vast majority of tooth pastes on the market include sodium fluoride for that stated purpose.

Nearly 50 years of madness should be stopped ASAP - no more scientific committees required - no more public funds down the drain - we want to save money now - the rest of Europe has done so for years.

I would urge readers to write or email their TD to complain about this waste of public funds.

This potential saving of €4 million each year could:

1) Employ 40 Junior Doctors (60K + average 43K overtime) in our hospitals.

2) Employ over 150 Special Needs Assistants in our schools.

3) Reverse the government's decision to abolish the 14 year old Modern Languages in Irish Primary Schools Initiative, an estimated saving of €2 million, and thereby prevent about 300 part-time teachers from signing on the dole this Summer.

Any of the above is an infinitely more useful purpose for €4 million of our money.

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