Cold water poured on fluoridation appeal

A local health authority’s plans for the fluoridation of a city’s tap water was not unlawful, the High Court has ruled.

A judge rejected an appeal by Southampton resident Geraldine Milner and it was ruled that there was no substance in any of the grounds of complaint and the legal challenge must be dismissed.

Geraldine Milner was opposed to the proposals because of uncertainties regarding long-term health risks associated with fluoridation, as well as concerns with regard to the possible adverse environmental effects.

She also considers that more targeted and less intrusive measures should be used to deal with problems of tooth decay in the Southampton area.

Ms Milner brought her application for judicial review backed by local anti-fluoride campaign groups in Hampshire.

The South Central Strategic Health Authority instructed the local water authority to forge ahead with fluoridation in February 2009.

Other local authorities had put other fluoridation schemes on hold pending the outcome of the case.

The British Dental Association (BDA) welcomed today’s decision to allow the SHA to proceed with its proposed scheme to fluoridate water in Southampton and parts of South West Hampshire.
The BDA believes that fluoridation will play an important role in reducing the worryingly high levels of dental decay in Southampton where as many as 42% of five-year olds have experienced tooth decay.

Despite a range of oral health measures used by Southampton City primary care trust to reduce these high levels of tooth decay and to address health inequalities, more than 520 children in Southampton still required general anaesthetic to have a total of 2,900 teeth extracted in 2007.
Commenting on the outcome, BDA scientific adviser Professor Damien Walmsley said: ‘The BDA is pleased with the result because it is likely to encourage consultation on similar schemes in other parts of the country where fluoride could help address the poor dental health of the population.
‘A recent European summary of the latest scientific evidence reiterated the view that water fluoridation is a safe and effective method of reducing oral health inequalities.’

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