|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Deputy Chairman of Committees: I would not wish to intrude on the work of the Committee by in any way embracing the role of a Speaker, but in fact the noble Baroness had two options: one would have been not to move the amendment; the other, which she has quite properly chosen, is to have moved it, in which case she is quite rightin those circumstances, leave to withdraw needs to be sought.
The Deputy Chairman of Committees: The Question is that the amendment be agreed to. As many as are of that opinion will say, "Content"; to the contrary, "Not-Content". I think the Not-Contents have it.
The Countess of Mar: As might be anticipated by those who know me, I rise to oppose the amendment. As I said earlier, I have lived in the Severn Trent river authority catchment area since before it started to fluoridate the water supply 40 years ago. My daughter, born 40 years ago, has no dental caries, but my granddaughter, who has never lived in an area where
I am not unsympathetic to the plight of children who have dental caries. For five years during the mid-1960s, I worked in the casualty department of my local hospital. Seeing tiny children whose milk teeth had not yet all erupted coming in for total dental clearances was not a pleasant experience. Their screams of terror before the anaesthetic took effect still haunt me. The sight of a mouthful of blackened stumps where there should be shiny white teeth was awful. However, I am not satisfied that mass medication as proposed by the Minister is the right answer.
We have been told that fluoride occurs naturally in some water supplies, and it does. It occurs as a relatively insoluble calcium fluoride. I understand that in most water supplies it occurs at levels of about 0.01 to 0.03 parts per million. At slightly higher levels, it is toxic. For example, in India, where levels of between 0.7 and 13 parts per million occur, large numbers of the population are crippled by skeletal fluorosis by the time they are 40.
The amendment authorises health authorities to request water authorities to put into our water supplies hexafluorosilicic acid, or disodium hexafluorosilicate. That chemical is a waste product of the fertiliser industry. Its environmental toxicity was first recognised in the early 1950s in the US. In Florida, the creation of multiple phosphate plants in the 1940s caused damage to vineyards and citrus groves. A former president of Polk County Cattlemen's Association said:
Environmental damage is known to occur at exposures of as low as one part per billion. Here we are talking about putting one part per million in our water supplies. Eventually, environmental legislation forced the agrochemical industries to put scrubbers in their chimneys to strip particulate and recovered compounds from waste gas. Every time I think of
Dental fluorosis is believed to affect an average of 48 per cent of children in fluoridated areas. I believe that that also applies to Birmingham. Since the beginning of the 20th century, fluorosis has been observed in patients suffering hypothyroidism. Do we imagine that the fluoridated water that we ingest leaves its fluoride on our teeth and has no further effect on other parts of our anatomies? About half the fluoride we ingest is accumulated in our bones. They may at one stage get stronger, but then they become brittle. No long-term research has ever been conducted into the systemic effects of long-term exposure to compounds of fluorine. Certainly there has been no attempt by our National Health Service to establish the levels of fluoride in the bodies of people who have lived for many years in fluoridated areas.
As well as being concerned about the effects of long-term exposure of the human population to fluorides, I am concerned about the ethics of mass medication. I am concerned about the effects of watering farm livestocka milking cow drinks 30 gallons of water per daywith medicated water. I am concerned about the effects of pouring billions of gallons of water into our sewers and watercourses daily, with the resultant contamination of the environment.
Lord Fowler: Having served with my noble friend for two or three years, I know perfectly well that she can speak for herself, and she most certainly will. The noble Countess confused me with the noble Lord, Lord Newton, and I would like to tell the Countess of Margate that I in no way regard that as an insult
The Countess of Mar: I thank the noble Lord for giving way. I apologise profoundly for mistaking his name. Perhaps the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, remembers a question about dioxin, which she answered when she was on the Front Bench on this side, and that she made a big joke when I asked her about scrubbers in chimneys.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page