Written Answers. - Fluoridation Forum.

John Gormley

Question:

306 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost of the fluoridation forum; and the budgeted cost of the expert body intended to implement its recommendations. [10773/03]

The cost of the fluoridation forum to date is €328,000 approximately. As the establishment of the expert body to implement the recommendations of the forum is in train, its potential cost is not available.

John Gormley

Question:

307 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children the total cost of ongoing research into fluoridation and fluoride exposure. [10774/03]

Three broad research projects are under way into dental services, which incorporate elements of specific and related research into fluoride. The cost of these research projects to the 1 December 2002 was approximately €574,000.

John Gormley

Question:

308 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children if he still intends to proceed with the recommendations in the report of the fluoridation forum despite its failure to allay public anxiety over the compulsory addition of silicofluorides to drinking water and the international criticism which the report has received. [10775/03]

The main conclusion of the Forum on Fluoridation was that the fluoridation of public piped water supplies should continue as a public health measure. It also reported that water fluoridation has been very effective in improving the oral health of the population and the best available and most reliable scientific evidence indicates that at the maximum permitted level of fluoride in drinking water at one part per million, human health is not adversely affected.

The forum made its conclusions after taking an evidence based approach to its examination of the issue. Its membership consisted of people with expert knowledge spanning the areas of public health, biochemistry, dental health, bone health, food safety, environmental protection, ethics, water quality, health promotion and representatives from the consumer and environmental areas. This diversity of professional backgrounds and representation was reflected in the comprehensive way the forum conducted its work and research.

The forum's report emerged from 14 plenary meetings, several meetings of subgroups and oral presentations of material from both proponents and opponents of fluoridation. The forum invited the public to forward their views and examined more than 1,000 submissions. In adopting a participatory and evidence based approach, the forum strove to ensure balance between participants from both sides of the debate on water fluoridation.

The report of the fluoridation forum made 33 recommendations covering a broad range of topics such as research, public awareness, and policy and technical aspects of fluoridation. I have asked my Department to establish an expert body as recommended by the forum. This body will oversee the implementation of the wide-ranging recommendations of the forum and advise me on all aspects of fluoride. In particular, ongoing research related to fluoride will continue to be evaluated by the expert body and expanded to deal with new emerging issues.

Question No. 309 answered with Question No. 281.