Written Answers. - Fluoridation of Water Supplies.

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

25 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Health if the fluoride added to drinking water is a chemical by-product of the agro-phosphate and aluminium processing industries which would prove a substantial cost to those industries if it was not disposed of by local authorities by adding it to drinking water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8431/96]

,Limerick East): The addition of fluoride to public water supplies is provided for in the Health (Fluoridation of Water Supplies) Act, 1960. Fluoride is added to the public water supplies as a positive public health measure for the reduction and control of dental caries, decay. This has long been recognised internationally as a safe and effective way to improve public oral health and research has confirmed this improvement.

The fluoride may be produced in two different ways. One way is as a by-product of the agricultural fertilizer industry while the other way is as a primary product in its own right. All fluoride used in the public water supplies, whether as a by-product or as a primary product, must comply with the required specification to ensure that it is of a high quality. Fluoride occurs widely in nature and is present naturally in the environment and in some natural foods. It is mainly sourced from geological sources, and it is natural constituent of differing types of natural rock formations.