A HUDDERSFIELD politician has hit out at the Government’s recommendation to fluoridate tap water to improve dental health.
Green Party parliamentary candidate Paul Cooney says medicating people without their permission breaches European human rights.
His comments come after health secretary Alan Johnson urged the NHS this week to consider fluoridating tap water in areas with poor dental health to help prevent tooth decay and reduce health inequalities.
The move will see an extra £14m in Government cash being made available over the next three years to help Strategic Health Authorities – including NHS Yorkshire and the Humber – introduce fluoridation schemes.
Programmes will only be put in place after public consultations have taken place measuring the level of public support locally.
But today Mr Cooney questioned the ethics behind the proposal.
He said: “Besides the reality of negative health effects, this is an issue of medical ethics.
“Fluoridating water is essentially medicating people without their permission, and the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine distinctly states that individuals have the right not to be medicated without their consent.”
He blamed factors including poor diet and inadequate dental hygiene as having more impact on poor dental health and accused the Government of taking “knee-jerk action” rather than confronting the real causes of the problem.
He added: “The health case for fluoride has far from been made.
“Claims about the effectiveness simply do not stand up on close scrutiny.
“Fluoride is a known poison if ingested over a long period of time, even in small daily doses.
“The Green Party wants to see a programme of education regarding proper dental hygiene and a healthy diet, a health warning on all sources of fluoride and a ban on the fluoridation of drinking water.”
He said the chemical had also been linked to a range of medical conditions including bone cancer, discolouration of teeth and severe skeletal problems.
Health minister Mr Johnson believed the benefitswould help balance the health of the country.
He said: “Fluoridation is scientifically supported, it is legal, and it is our policy, but only two or three areas currently have it and we need to go much further in areas where dental health needs to be improved.
“It is an effective and relatively easy way to help address health inequalities, giving children from poorer backgrounds a dental health boost that can last a lifetime.”