Date Published: 19 September 2006

Do you want fluorine to be added to your drinking water ?

Although there are many, and increasing, campaigns against this - for many residents of western countries the only way to avoid consuming fluorine in one's drinking water is by not drinking tap-water

Convenient ? Certainly not !
Alternatives to tap water include bottled water (not ideal because so many of the bottles are plastic, which raises other issues), or home water distillers (prohibitively expensive for many).

If in doubt about the controversy of this issue, one need only enter the terms "fluorine drinking water" [or similar], into an internet search engine.

The following appear among the many webpages campaigning against the fluoridation of drinking water:

  • The Truth About Fluoride and Drinking Water, Vernon Coleman
    (This balanced article mentions the possibilities of bone disorders and cancer if much more than two parts of fluoride per million is added to drinking water. It also mentions that in 1986, the World Health Organization published a report in which concern was expressed about the incidence of dental problems caused by there being too much fluoride in public drinking water supplies.)
  • Fluoride: Drinking Ourselves to Death ?
    This page refers to a whole book on the subject and includes many concise statements such as:
    " Fluoride is more toxic than lead and only slightly less toxic than arsenic. Yet it is routinely added to the drinking water of five million people in Britain and more than two and a half million people in Ireland. They are given no choice. "
  • Science Errors and Corruptions (Sorry, website no-longer available)
    This is not a specifically "health-related" website, but is run by a scientist writing about a wide range of topics to raise public awareness.

Counter-arguments - with admissions of the dangers of excessive consumption of fluoride - appear on the website of the British Dental Health Foundation at and other similar dental and government sites. Considering that such articles admit that (some) fluorine is present in water naturally, and that extra fluorine can be obtained through diet and use of fluoride toothpaste, the arguments for including this chemical in drinking water distributed to everyone are far from convincing.

However, for those concerned about this practice, the news is not all bad. Some water companies, such as Southern Water, UK ( do not add fluorine to water.

In a statement* on their website, Southern Water indicate that:

" Our position on adding fluoride to the public drinking water supply remains clear we do not have the medical expertise to judge the effects on dental health if we have to add fluoride.
_ However, with our expertise in engineering and water treatment, we are happy to provide health authorities with technical advice in relation to the operation of the water supply system.
_ We have always maintained the addition of fluoride to the water supply is a public health issue, not a water quality issue, and we would, therefore, seek indemnity for this process that would extend beyond our responsibilities under current legislation. The company does not expect the indemnity to cover any failure on our part to perform the process properly.
_ At present, Southern Water does not add fluoride to the water in any area it supplies, but could be required to do so as a result of new Government legislation. MPs have recently voted to give the decision on whether to dose water supplies with fluoride to the local health authority.

Goods news for residents of the South of England then, but what happens when the decision-making authority does pass to branches of government and their agencies ?

The New Zealand Ministry of Health is urging residents of Ashburton to support water fluoridation despite anti-fluoridation messages which have been distributed to households this week (15/09/2006) by an anti-fluoridation group. The Ministry of Health's Chief Advisor of Oral Health Dr Robin Whyman has made a series of statements on this subject, in which he claims that water fluoridation is a "safe and cost effective way of reducing the burden of dental decay across the ."

Robin Whyman said that the role of fluoride in water has been investigated not only in New Zealand but in many locations around the world and that the results indicate that both children and adults living in fluoridated areas have less dental caries and those living in non-fluoridated areas. In his statement he urged support for water-fluoridation:

" Ashburton residents need to weigh up all the evidence for and against fluoride to make an informed decision and the Ministry urges residents to support fluoridating Ashburton's water supply once again."

Despite lengthy campaign information from NZ MoH at, we could find no mention of concerns that if water fluoridation is carried out then the issues may be quickly forgotten and those opposed subject to much higher costs to avoid the unwanted fluorine - if they are able to do so at all (due to the costs, inconvenience, and possibly also the risks of sourcing and using an alternative supply of drinking water).

Conversely, those who are convinced by arguments in favour of increasing their consumption of fluorine could do so regardless of the composition of the drinking water supplied to their homes, e.g. by using fluoride toothpastes and/or by greater attention to their own diet - which is a positive habit anyway.

However one feels about the specific subject of water fluorination, the possibility of forcing this onto the population by introducing (or continuing to add) more chemicals into drinking water is a matter of (the infringement) of personal choice. Put another way, perhaps any ballot question should be phrased:

"Should the individual or the state decide what he/she eats/drinks ?"

How would you vote (if you had the chance) ?

Source: IvyRose. See also news item: Legality of Fluoridation of Tap Water in Southampton (UK), 19 Jan 2011.

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