Water fluoridation has the lowest environmental impact when compared to other prevention tools, according to a new study.
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin and University College London highlighted the low environmental footprint of water fluoridation, arguing that more effort needs to be made to implement the intervention.
Looking at how it impacted five-year-old children over a one-year period, the researchers compared it to traditional fluoride varnish and toothbrushing programmes.
While data on the clinical effectiveness and cost analysis of water fluoridation are available, there has been no data regarding its environmental impact.
The research team performed a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This measured the travel, weight and amounts of all products and processes involved in the three preventive programmes.
Data was inputted into a specific environmental programme (OpenLCA). The team used the Ecoinvent database, which meant they could calculate environmental outputs. This includes the carbon footprint, the amount of water used for each product and the amount of land use.
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The results showed that water fluoridation had the lowest environmental impact in all categories studied.
Findings also revealed that it gives the greatest return on investment.
Associate Professor Duane said: ‘As the climate crisis starts to worsen, we need to find ways of preventing disease to reduce the environmental impact of our health systems. This research clearly demonstrates the low carbon impact of water fluoridation as an effective prevention tool.’
Professor Paul Ashley is senior clinical lecturer (honorary NHS consultant) at UCL Eastman Dental Institute. He added: ‘Renewed efforts should be made to increase access to this intervention.’
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