HL Deb 10 June 1998 vol 590 cc94-5WA
Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether their assertion in paragraph 3.33 of the Green Paper Our Healthier Nation (Cm 3852) that "fluoridation of the water supply … can substantially reduce the amount of [dental] decay in children" assumes that artificially fluoridated water has the same effects on the human body as naturally fluoridated water; and, if so on what scientific evidence this is based; and [HL2072]

Whether, in assessing the safety of fluoridated water, they have taken into account the axiom expressed by K. Roholm in his book Fluorine Intoxication (1937) that complex sodium fluorides are more toxic to humans than calcium fluorides; and whether they can cite any subsequent studies that refute his assertion. [HL2073]

Baroness Jay of Paddington

We understand that it is a fundamental axiom of toxicology that dose determines effect. At high doses, calcium fluoride dissolves poorly and is poorly absorbed from the gut, in comparison with many other fluoride compounds including certain complex inorganic sodium fluorides. At high dose, therefore, its acute toxicity is relatively low. This is irrelevant to the question of the effects of long-term consumption of 1 part per million in drinking water. As would be expected from considerations of physical chemistry, there is no detectable difference in absorption of the fluoride ions whether they occur entirely naturally or whether the naturally occurring concentration has been supplemented by hexafluorosilicic acid or its sodium salt. Some of the human and animal studies which demonstrate this are discussed inFluorides and Human Health (World Health Organisation, Geneva, 1970), on pages 81–83 and page 86. Furthermore, the numerous studies of the effects of fluoride in drinking water on fluoride levels in bone, blood and urine, and on the health of bone and teeth, provide no evidence that there is any difference between naturally occurring fluoride and fluoride supplementation, at relevant concentrations in drinking water. Evidence from studies by Arnold, Likins, Russell and Scott (1962) and Brown and Poplove (1965) indicates a reduction in dental decay following artificial fluoridation of water supplies to a similar level of dental decay where water contained fluoride at a comparable level from naturally occurring sources.

In addition, naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water is not necessarily accompanied by high levels of calcium; it may, for instance, be accompanied by high levels of sodium and potassium (e.g. Leone NC et al, 1954, Public Health Reports, Vol. 69, pp 925–936, Table 1).

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