A TOP Glasgow dental scientist is set to join a legal
battle on behalf of British children poisoned by fluoride.
Dr Josie Beeley, who admits dentists once regarded her as "almost a
heretic," is backing a joint move by around 250 children hit by dental
fluorosis to take on the giant toothpaste firms in the courts.
Her action comes after a difficult summer for the pro-fluoride lobby and
its ongoing battle to win the hearts and minds of the public.
And her decision to offer her services as an expert witness highlights a
subtle change of direction in the decades-old battle between opposing sides
in the great fluoride debate.
The row has historically centred on the fiercely controversial issue of
But now Dr Beeley, senior lecturer in oral biochemistry at the University
of Glasgow, has nailed her colours to the mast in an emergent new focal
point of the argument - the fluoride supplements market.
Further evidence is coming to light of the potential risks posed to young
children by products like fluoridated toothpaste, tablets and drops.
Dr Beeley has offered her support to the growing number of families
throughout the UK bidding - including one in Bearsden - to wage a legal
battle against the
makers of these goods.
They hope to win compensation for their children, who suffer from the
increasingly common chronic fluoride poisoning syndrome, dental fluorosis.
The condition, which causes the teeth of affected children to become
irreversibly mottled and stained, often arises when toddlers unintentionally
swallow fluoridated toothpaste while brushing their teeth.
And she told the Evening Times she believed there was a "substantial
problem" inherent in the practice.
Dr Beeley revealed she BANNED her young
son from using such toothpaste when she became aware of the potential
||"When I realised how much fluoride was in my son's toothhpaste, and where
it was going if he didn't spit it out," she explained "I saw that if I
didn't do something, he was going to get fluorosis."
In a 1993 article in the British Dental Journal, Dr William Rock, of the
University of Birmingham's school of dentistry warned of the dangers to
young children of swallowing fluoridated toothpaste, particularly if they
live in a part of the country with fluoridated water supplies.
Dr Rock's paper points out that the majority of fluoride toothpastes in
the UK contain 1000 parts per million of fluoride, and several have a level
as high as 1500ppm.
By comparison, the maximum for water fluoridation is only 1ppm.
Recent developments may reopen the bitter arguments which raged
throughout Strathclyde in the lead up to the regional council's decisive
rejection - by 56 votes to 16 - of water fluoridation in June, 1993.
Thirteen children between the ages of 4 and 13 had previously been denied
legal aid for their individual cases, because the cost could not be
At the High Court in London in July, Justice Dyson agreed with that
decision by the Nottingham Legal Aid Board.
However, he said solicitors should advertise to determine the number of
potential victims and to see if a multi-party action could be cost
The firm - Freeth, Cartwright, Hunt and Dickins subsequently acted on
As a result, they now have the names of around 250 fluorosis victims, and
have just submitted a fresh legal aid application.
Dr Beeley now plans to help, inviting them to join the growing number of
families - including one in Bearsden - who plan to mount court action.