I propose to take Questions Nos. 229 and 244 together.
Fluoride may be added to public water supplies either in the form of hydrofluosilicic acid complying with the specification for that substance in Schedule 1 to the Fluoridation of Water Supplies Regulations 2007 (S.I. 42 of 2007), or in such other form as may be approved by the Minister for Health. The fluoride used in Ireland is sourced as a primary product; it is mined directly from a raw material source, the mineral fluorospar as calcium fluoride (CaF2). It then goes through a purification process to conform to tightly controlled specifications under the requirements of CEN Standard I.S.EN 12175:2001 to produce Hydrofluosilicic Acid (HFSA), specifically used as the mineral additive, fluoride, to water.
The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) is the competent authority for the licensing of human and veterinary medicines and medical devices in Ireland. The IMB considers that neither drinking water itself nor the fluoride added to drinking water in the form of fluoride salts or silica fluoride, as defined in the Health (Fluoridation of Water Supplies) Act 1960, should be categorised as medicinal products requiring marketing authorisations. It considers that the fluoridation of drinking water should be seen as a measure consistent with general public health management. The principles for approval of use of HFSA in treatment of water intended for human consumption are no different to those relating to other chemicals used in drinking water treatment, such as disinfectants and coagulants. No water treatment chemical is intended for direct human consumption. The level of fluoride in drinking water in Ireland has been set at between 0.6-0.8 parts per million. This level of fluoride is deemed optimal for protecting the oral health of all age groups.
The Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health, established in 2004, continuously monitors new and emerging issues on fluoride and its effects. It advises that the balance of scientific evidence worldwide confirms that water fluoridation, at the optimal level, does not cause any ill effects and protects the oral health of the population. These views are supported by reputable international agencies and valid scientific articles and reviews. The effects of fluoridation on health and related matters are kept under constant review.