Fluoride Debate: Another Whitewash on the Way?

Wednesday, 18th December, 2013

Though organisations such as Irish Dentists Opposing Fluoridation continue to highlight major concerns about the Irish water system, there are fears that a new government review will fail to tackle the real issues.

Don MacAuley was a key fluoride whistleblower back in 2000. He founded the 100-strong group, Irish Dentists Opposing Fluoridation, helping to generate a significant breakthrough in public and media awareness of the health risks associated with fluoride in the early years of the Noughties.

That campaign was effectively smothered by the ‘Forum on Fluoridation’, set up by then Minister for Health Micheál Martin in 2002. Over the past year, however, fluoride awareness has taken another leap forward, urged on by the combined efforts of The Girl Against Fluoride, Aisling FitzGibbon; the research of scientist, Declan Waugh; the ongoing Hot Press investigation; Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, Labour TD Emmet Stagg and other individual politicians; and the work of many grassroots campaigners.

Dr MacAuley has now returned to the fray. Originally from Co. Tyrone, he studied in the UK to be a dentist and, having qualified, worked abroad. He first became aware that there was an issue about fluoride when he returned to Ireland in 1998.

Initially he was sceptical that there were health risks, but he quickly uncovered what he believed were convincing studies linking fluoride to serious adverse health effects.

Unable to get straight answers from the Department of Health and the Irish Dental Association to his queries about fluoride, MacAuley began using the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to gather information. He says that he received several warnings from senior dentists in the Health Board to drop his FOI investigation and that he ultimately lost his job. Finding it impossible to get work, MacAuley set up his own practice in Navan, Co Meath, which he still runs.

It was only by chance that, in January 2002, MacAuley happened upon a mention on the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) website of a fluoride assessment being conducted by the FSAI. A week later when he looked, all mention of the assessment had been removed. It was only by pushing to the max through the FOI (with the FSAI resisting all the way) that MacAuley was able to find out more about the FSAI report. That information is revealed in full for the first time in the accompanying article.

As we have previously suggested in Hot Press, the level of resistance in the Department of Health to anti-fluoridation views is almost impossible to understand. Thomas Sheridan, an internationally known Irish expert on socialised psychopaths, and author of several books on the subject, believes that it is very sinister.

“Fluoride could be the most negative and damaging issue since the Catholic abuse situation,” he told Hot Press. “Because if this thing comes out – that we are a sick, ill, damaged nation because of government policy constantly passing the buck – it could lead to a flurry of law suits.”
That seems an ever-more likely outcome. What emerges in Don MacAuley’s article is that, in full knowledge of the risk of poisoning our infant population, the Irish authorities have continued to facilitate the overexposure of hundreds of thousands of bottle-fed babies to fluoride.

Meanwhile, in a response to questions posed by Hot Press, the Department of Health has promised a review of the impact of fluoride on human and environmental health in Ireland.

“Two assessments are planned,” a spokesperson told Hot Press. “A review of evidence on the impact of water fluoridation at its current level on the health of the population and on the environment will be conducted by the Health Research Board on behalf of the Department of Health in 2014.”

No detail is provided in relation to how this review will be conducted, what evidence will be assessed, or whether international studies will be taken into account. The fear is that what is intended is another whitewash, specifically designed to bolster the State’s position, in defending any cases taken against it, including the one already being taken by Aisling FitzGibbon.

The Department also tells us that “a review of general health databases is planned to be supported by a public health specialist.”

However, as Don MacAuley’s accompanying report confirms, who is doing the review and how it is approached is vital. Anti-fluoride campaigners will be dismayed to see that the research is being carried out by one of Ireland’s long-time advocates of fluoridation, Professor Denis O Mullane.

“At present,” the spokesperson added, “the Department is collaborating in a University College Cork-led research project, ‘Fluoride and Caring for Children’s Teeth’ (FACCT) which will specifically examine the oral health status of children and inform national policy. The study will consider the impact of changes on the oral health of children, following policy decisions relating to toothpaste use by infants and young children made in 2002 and the reduction in the level of fluoridation in drinking water in 2007.”

Sceptics will point immediately to the title of the study, which presumes a connection between fluoride and ‘caring’. They will also be perturbed at a statement made in the answers provided to Hot Press. In advance of any study or review, we are emphatically told that “the Department does not accept that there is a huge amount of scientific evidence stacking up against the safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation.”

If that is already decided, then it is not worth wasting more public money on any review. 

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