While I note the concerns raised about fluoride in your water supply, fluoridation programmes in our country are common practice, and have been in place for nearly 60 years. I am aware that currently, around 5.8 million people in England already consume fluoridated water. I would like to reassure you that there have been no cases of water fluoridation causing any ill effects.
I understand that a report from Public Health England (now the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities) on improving oral health, published in 2020, found that water fluoridation significantly reduces tooth decay, especially in children. It found that, in deprived areas where water fluoridation occurs, there were 55 per cent fewer hospital admissions for tooth decay among children aged one to four.
This scheme is effective and safe, and I am reassured that there is no evidence of health harms from the levels of fluoride used in English schemes, nor the slightly higher levels allowed naturally. Further, the Government is required to monitor the effects of water fluoridation and produce reports on this every four-years, which I hope you find reassuring. The last report was published in 2018 which means that there will be a new report, which is due to be published in 2022.
While this is a government-supported programme, local authorities are responsible for any consultations on fluoridation schemes. You will be encouraged to know that ministers have published a toolkit for local authorities to aid them in carrying out these consultations. However, it is worth noting that the new Health and Care Bill proposes to return responsibility for the fluoridation of water in England from local authorities to central government, making it easier to expand water fluoridation schemes so that more of the population can benefit from it.
Finally, I know that some are concerned by previous suggestions of adverse effects from fluoridated drinking water, such as a rare form of bone cancer (osteosarcoma), Down’s syndrome or effects on the kidney. I am, however, reassured that evidence does not support this and that various authoritative expert evaluations from different international organisations all agree that there is no convincing evidence that fluoride in drinking water at levels used in fluoridation schemes or at concentrations below the regulatory drinking water limit is harmful to general health.