I am in favour of fluoridation in areas, like Birmingham, where
the natural level of fluoride is not sufficient to help protect teeth. This Clause
will give other communities the opporutnity of having the same benefits of fluoridation
that we have had in Birmingham for the last 40 years, due to the far sightedness of
Birmingham City Council who used to run BIrmingham's water supply.
Clause 58 of the Bill is designed to
require water companies to agree to requests from strategic health authorities to increase
the concentration of fluoride in their water supplies, where the local population is in
favour. I support this Clause as it will give
local communities the choice of having their water supply fluoridated. The Clause does not impose fluoridation on
local communities, it simply enables them to
demand that their water companies provide it, should the community so wish. At present water companies are not under any
obligation to provide this health measure.
Fluoride can be delivered to
individuals in drinking water, in which the fluoride level is adjusted to one part per one
million parts of water (1ppm or 1mg/litre). In
Birmingham where we have had artificially fluoridated water for decades, people have much
better dental health than in other communities. Tooth
decay is still a significant public health problem in many parts of the country. In socially deprived, non-fluoridated communities,
one in three children under the age of five will have one or more decayed teeth extracted.
In some communities the level of
fluoride that exists naturally in the water is already higher than the 1.5mg/l of fluoride
limited by Directive 98/83/EC i.e. 1.5ppm. So
in those areas where the natural level is higher than this the concentration has to be
reduced usually by dilution. For this reason,
it is crucial that there is not a blanket policy of imposing fluoridation, but a policy
which gives communities the right to choose and I am pleased that the Government is
introducing such a measure.
Some people have raised concerns about
dental fluorosis (characterised by an alteration of dental enamel) arising from artificial
fluoridation. However, dental fluorosis can
occur in both fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas. With
water levels up to 1ppm the severe forms of fluorosis are extremely rare and are
associated with other uses of fluoride, for example, the swallowing of adult strength
fluoride toothpaste by very young children.
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