CAMPAIGNERS have called for Hampshire’s controversial fluoridation scheme to be scrapped after a damning report in a leading medical journal.
The report says that exposing youngsters to fluoride could lead to brain damage and reduced IQ, and calls for urgent tests to determine its effect.
It comes after a change in Euro-pean Union law came into effect, stating a key chemical needed to carry out fluoridation of tap water – known as hexafluorosilicic acid – is not on the list of materials which should be added to drinking water or food.
However, the ultimate power as to whether to introduce fluoridation still lies in the hands of public health authorities, in this case Public Health England (PHE).
PHE still insists it will put the chemical into the drinking water of 200,000 residents in Southampton, Totton, Eastleigh, Rownhams and Netley, despite staunch opposition from campaigners and local councils. It took over the responsibility of the scheme from the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA), axed last year.
Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council are locked in a legal struggle with PHE, saying that the fluoridation scheme does not exist due to a failure to hand over key documents between the SHA and PHE.
Leading paediatrician Philip J Landrigan and Philippe Grandjean, a professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health, who wrote the report in The Lancet publication, say recent research has led them to define fluoride as a developmental neurotoxin – a chemical that can have a negative impact on the human body – alongside chemicals such as lead and arsenic.
They say they have looked at 27 studies on children exposed to fluoride in drinking water in China, which on average resulted in a loss of seven IQ points.
And their report states that “developmental neurotoxicity causes brain damage that is too often untreatable and frequently permanent”, as well as a similar loss of brain power as that caused by a traumatic brain injury or brain tumours.
Saying the effects of a number of newly-identified neurotoxins, including fluoride, are not known fully, they have urged health authorities to carry out tests for the full extent of their impact.
Anti-fluoride campaigners in Hampshire have renewed calls for PHE to scrap fluoridation in the wake of the report.
John Spottiswood, chairman of Hampshire Against Fluoridation, said: “I think this is the final nail in the coffin for fluoride.
“One of the most worrying things is the potential damage to children. This shows that putting fluoride in our water is putting our children at risk – it’s irresponsible, dangerous and deeply immoral.”
And Carol Scarborough, from Shirley in Southampton, said: “The Lancet report is the latest in a long line of research findings that have identified fluoride as a developmental neurotoxin of danger to our children, with implications of serious health problems in later life.
“The evidence in this report should be the alarm bell to end the fluoridation policy immediately and settle the local debate once and for all.”
The Daily Echo asked PHE to comment, but the organisation had not done so by the time the Echo went to print.