(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Health Ministry is gearing up to oppose a private member’s bill sponsored by
Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich to prevent the municipalities from adding fluoride
to water supplies in towns and cities with more than 5,000
Although its safety and efficacy in reducing dental decay,
especially in children but also to a degree in adults, have been proven
scientifically around the world, various popular efforts oppose
Prof. Itamar Grotto, head of the ministry’s public health
services, told The Jerusalem Post
that a major meta-analysis of research studies
from around the world has shown that fluoride added properly in water is of
major benefit to dental health and does not pose health dangers.
opponents continue to make unproven claims that the gas in the drinking water
can lower children’s IQ and even cause cancer.
These claims are
“fiction,” Grotto declared. The only potential problem is if children get major
overdoses of fluoride from other sources, such as swallowing fluoride toothpaste
instead of spitting it out or getting fluoride drops even if the drinking water
in their locality is fluoridated. In this case, there can be fluorosis, in which
greyish spots appear on the teeth.
But this condition is very rare,
appearing in less than 1 percent of children, he said, and public education can
About 70% of Israelis get fluoridated water.
MK Rachel Adatto, a physician by training, told the Post
on Tuesday that she
studied the matter of fluoridation since the matter was raised by the
Yachimovich and was persuaded that fluoridation is vital for public health and
“The medical world regards fluoridation as equivalent in
importance to public health to antibiotics, seat belts and other initiatives,”
she said. “I see no reason not to back the ministry on this. Fluoridation has
been the practice for 60 years and continues in the most advanced countries,
from the US to Australia and Singapore.”
Yacimovich has also raised the
ire of public health experts by calling for the cancellation of the law that
requires everyone on wheels – from skates to bicycles – to wear suitable helmets
both inside cities and on inter-city roads. A campaign against the helmet
requirement in cities has been pushed by commercial interests that rent out
bicycles in Tel Aviv.
Prof. Ted Tulchinsky of the Braun School of Public
Health of the Hebrew University-Hadassah said Yacimovich’s initiative against
helmets “is a very sad display of willful disregard for safety of bicycle riders
and public health in general. It is a wrong message and will unnecessarily cost
lives and serious injuries.
Anyone who has experienced or seen a bike
rider take a tumble or seen the damage that head injuries can cause will know
what I mean.”