Is water fluoridation a health risk?

Flouride_Baby Charlie

Most mothers would be horrified at the thought of their daughters stripping for attention. Not Martha Fitzgibbon.

She encouraged her daughter Aisling to strip in public to emphasize how they believe the Irish Government’s forced fluoridation policy puts their health at risk.

In stripping off she is highlighting their belief that the Government is stripping them of their right to drink unmedicated water. Martha, a teacher, suggested the approach after previous attempts to highlight the cause were largely ignored.

Aisling, a 26 year old nutritionist from Tralee, is taking the Government to court to end this mandatory fluoridation of the public water supplies. She has more than 8,000 supporters including musicians Paddy Casey and Christy Moore and is working with activists from across Ireland and abroad, including the Fluoride Action Network and veteran Northern Ireland campaigner Walter Graham. He united Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley against the UK Government plans to fluoridate Northern Ireland water in the 90s. Graham has been advising Sinn Féin Environment Spokesman Brian Stanley, who presented his bill to ban fluorides to the Dáil in May.

Walter Graham visited Dublin City Council recently to highlight the studies linking fluorides with health problems. He urged councillors to tell the Irish Government that mandatory fluoridation is too risky to continue. So far this year, four local authorities, Kerry, Skibbereen, Carrickmacross and Portlaoise have told the Government that it should end flouridation.

However, when asked by a NewsFour reporter, the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health said they believed Mr Graham’s presentation lacked scientific rigour. “Some of the slides used by Mr Graham were selected from a large number of maps published by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI). The NCRI has stated that neither existing internal research nor the information on these maps supports a link between water fluoridation and cancer. He has ignored the vast bulk of scientific research on this matter and has offered as evidence old material and other books which lack original research, misquote or misunderstand scientific articles and confuse opinion with fact.”

Environmental Scientist Declan Waugh came to Leinster House with Aisling Fitzgibbon in July to explain the links he found between fluorides in water and a long list of health conditions. Waugh has spent more than two years comparing statistics on the different rates of illness in Ireland and non-fluoridated Northern Ireland. His 2012 report found that early onset dementia is 450 times more common in the Republic than in the North. Waugh also believes that Ireland’s very high rate of Down Syndrome may be related to fluorides. He claims that studies show that places that put fluoride in their water have higher rates of alzheimers, cancer, kidney disease, thyroid illness, arthritis, and eczema.

Again, The Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health, who have broad representation from areas such as dentistry, biochemistry, toxicology, environmental health and public health medicine, refute these claims. “The incidence of early onset of dementia is almost identical in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland,” a spokeman told NewsFour. “There is also no evidence that there is any link between Down Syndrome and water fluoridation. Mr Waugh alleges that Ireland has the highest levels of Down Syndrome in the world.

“The Irish rate is reported as one in 546 births, which Mr Waugh compares to one in 1,000 births in the UK. But over 50% of all Down Syndrome pregnancies in England and Wales result in an abortion. When this is taken into account, the UK rate rises to approximately 1 in 460 births – in other words, there appears to be a higher rate of Down Syndrome pregnancies in the UK.

“In evaluating on-going research, the Expert Body accepts the fundamental scientific tenet that any single piece of scientific evidence by itself remains hypothetical unless it can be repeated or confirmed by other scientists. Therefore, it considers scientific evidence that has been submitted to examination by other scientists, usually by publication in recognised peer reviewed scientific journals, after such publication has been approved by independent referees.

“While Mr Waugh’s report does not fulfil these criteria the Expert Body appraised his report at the request of the Minister for Health. The Expert Body found it to be unreliable. Its appraisal is available on the Expert Body’s website ( The Expert Body’s only concern about this false claim is that some people may believe it.”

The decision to fluoridate Irish water was made by Fianna Fáil Minister Sean McEntee in 1962 to improve the quality of children’s teeth. He was opposed by Dublin mother-of-five Gladys Ryan, who lost. Gladys died in February this year. Declan Waugh dedicated his 2012 and 2013 reports to her.

Also in February, University of Ulster toxicologist Professor Vyvyan Howard warned that babies drinking bottles made with Irish tap water may be overdosing on fluorides. He pointed out that various scientific studies made a link between fluorides in water and lowered IQs in children. Howard, a UK Government advisor to DEFRA (Dept of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and a nanotechnology expert said, “Breast milk contains very low levels of fluoride (0.004 ppm, NRC, 2006, p.40), even when the lactating mother has been administered fluoride. Though the serum level of fluoride increased, the breast milk level remained very low (Ekstrand, 1981, 1984). It is my opinion that this is the result of a specific exclusion process that has evolved to protect the neonate from exposure to anything other than very low levels of fluoride during critical windows of development of a number of organs.” According to Howard, a baby drinking formula made with fluoridated tap water at one part per million gallons will get 250 times more fluoride than a breast-fed baby.

Aisling continues to campaign
DeclanWaugh’s report is at
More information on the Expert Body:

Pictured: Baby Charlie and his milk bottle.

By Shan Kelly
and NewsFour Reporters