The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is concerned that water fluoridation is to be re-introduced into Sabah's public water supply next year as reported on Bernama on Dec 28, 2010.
Water fluoridation was discontinued in 1989 by the then-Sabah government which feared that inadequate supervision in the process of adding fluoride to the water could cause adverse effects. It is reported that the imminent water fluoridation project is under the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) with an allocation of RM2.5 million.
The Malaysian government approved fluoridation of water in 1972 in an attempt to reduce dental cavities. Reportedly, 75.5 percent of the country's population receives fluoridated water.
Fluoride is the only chemical added to drinking water for the purpose of medication, i.e. to prevent tooth decay. All other treatment chemicals are added to treat the water to improve the water's quality and safety - which fluoride does not do. Thus, fluoridation is mass medication and it violates the individual's right to informed consent.
Fluoride is a very toxic substance, which is why it is the active ingredient in a number of pesticides. Total fluoride exposure has increased substantially since the early days of fluoridation.
Besides fluoride in our water, people are exposed to fluoride from bottled drinks, toothpaste, fluoride drops and treatments, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and industrial discharges. As such there is a possibility of excessive intake of fluoride which would lead to health problems.
Depending on the level of exposure, a number of adverse health effects may be linked to fluoride ingestion. In humans, they include bone cancer, bone fracture, skeletal fluorosis, arthritis, impaired thyroid hormone status, impaired neurodevelopment in children, and calcification of the pineal gland. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data shows that dental fluorosis, caused by fluoride over-exposure, now impacts one third of American children.
The above findings and new scientific evidence show that fluoridation is ineffective and has serious health risks. However, the health agencies in Malaysia that advocate putting fluoride into our drinking water have failed to provide up-to-date, regular, comprehensive, and transparent re-evaluations of risks of fluoridating drinking water, based on the most current science and available alternatives.
Recent studies also strongly suggest that fluorides work primarily by topical means through direct action on the surface of the teeth via toothpaste, or gels used in dental treatments. Thus ingestion of fluoride through drinking fluoridated water is not essential or effective for caries reduction.
Hence there is absolutely no necessity to fluoridate our water. We hereby urge the Malaysian government to stop water fluoridation in this country and call on the Sabah government to not start fluoridating its water.
The writer is president of the Consumers’ Association of Penang.