18 Sep 2010

Brussels - EC hearing advances water fluoridation debate

EC hearing advances water fluoridation debate
By Lorraine Heller, 17-Sep-2010
Stakeholders are gathering in Brussels today to discuss a preliminary opinion on the fluoridation of drinking water in a European Commission hearing.
Organised by the EC’s Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) the hearing will provide a ground for the examination of criticisms, comments and concerns to the conclusions already presented in a pre-consultation opinion.
This had followed a request from the EC for SCHER to evaluate any new evidence surrounding the health effects or possible risks that may be linked to adding fluoridating agents to drinking water.

Fluoride in water

Fluoride is not considered to be essential for human growth and development but it is considered to be beneficial in the prevention of dental caries or tooth decay.

However, excessive intake of fluoride thought to lead to flurosis, which can stain or damage teeth.

Public concerns about the negative health effects of an increased consumption of fluoride prompted the EC request the examination from SCHER.

In its preliminary opinion, the committee considered previous opinions delivered by EFSA and SCCP but also reviewed the newest information in the area on risk and benefit of using fluoridated drinking water and intake of fluoride from all sources.
Key findings included:
There is no obvious advantage in favour of water fluoridation compared to topical application which is the most effective method for prevention of tooth decay;
Human exposure to fluorosilicates due to the use of hexafluorosilicic acid or hexafluorosilicate is very low because of their rapid and complete hydrolysis in water forming fluoride ions;
The upper tolerable intake level of fluoride may be exceeded in children under the age of 12 living in areas with fluoridated drinking water;
Fluoride intake from drinking water does not hamper children's neurodevelopment and does not impair IQ at the level occurring in the EU;
Studies do not suggest adverse thyroid, skeletal, reproductive or cancerogenic effects of fluoride at realistic human exposure levels in drinking water;
Exposure of environmental organisms to levels of fluoride as used in fluoridation of drinking water is not expected to lead to unacceptable risks for the environment.
Today’s hearing is expected to complement the internet consultation on SCHER’s preliminary opinion, for which the deadline for submission of comments is 22 September.

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