THE Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has warned that adding fluoride to SA's drinking water poses a possible health risk to people with HIV/AIDS, as well as those suffering from malnutrition.
Legislation which requires water providers to add fluoride to drinking water will come into effect next year.
Briefing Parliament's water affairs portfolio committee yesterday, Bettina Genthe, a water analysis expert with Environmentek, a business unit of the CSIR, said that while she recognised that the addition of fluoride to drinking water would help prevent tooth decay, it was "not necessarily a good idea".
"We've got a number of factors which affect the impact of fluoride in this country one of these is that malnutrition makes fluoride more toxic.
"So this is a factor we would have to consider before going ahead and adding fluoride to the water supply."
There was also the potential danger of fluoride compromising people's immune systems, she said.
In a reference to the AIDS pandemic, Genthe said "a large percentage of the South African population already have a compromised immune system; this (fluoridation) just adds more fuel".
"Maybe we shouldn't be going at it in this particular way. There is no doubt that fluoride is good for teeth, and it protects against decay but water fluoridation might not be the best way of achieving this protection," she said.
Genthe said fluoridation was "potentially a problem" for people with HIV.
Genthe said animal studies and the cell studies have shown that there was a potential problem, but "we haven't proven it yet".
the CSIR planned to issue a warning to municipalities, advising them
to hold off on plans to fluoridate their water, Genthe said the council's
views were contained in a report by the Water Research Commission, which
had been available since the beginning of the year.
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