Health Ministry to fight anti-fluoridation bill

MK Shelly Yacimovich proposes bill to prevent municipalities from adding flourides to water supplies.

Shelly Yacimovich (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shelly Yacimovich
(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 residents.
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 fluoridation.
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.
But its 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 minimize it.
About 70% of Israelis get fluoridated water.
Kadima 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 is safe.
“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.”