Fluoridation of Israel’s drinking water is expected to be restored in the coming months, barring any bureaucratic or legal obstacles, according to the Health Ministry on Tuesday.
In “a few months,” fluoridation will be back, said Udi Kaliner, acting head of public health services in the ministry, quoted by The Jerusalem Post. However, that’s on condition that the council of the Water Authority headed by Giora Shaham approves it as expected and the High Court throws out a petition to block it.
The legal action was filed by former Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid), who discontinued fluoridation during her tenure in the previous Netanyahu government.
“All the regulations for water quality and fluoridation are in place. They have to be published to put them into effect, and the Water Authority council has to approve it. I agree that too much time has passed, but the process takes time,” Kaliner said.
The council is scheduled to meet on September 7. The cost of fluoridation will be just a few additional agorot per cubic meter to water bills.
The Health Ministry began mandatory fluoridation in 1970 in municipalities with over 5,000 residents, until German stopped it, on the grounds that people should not be forced to drink water with added components. The move was highly controversial because of the broad consensus about the health benefits of fluoridation.
The World Health Organization says that water fluoridation has substantial advantages, especially for high-risk groups, and the World Dental Federation has supported water fluoridation as safe and effective.
In Israel, public health and dental experts, including Hebrew University School of Public Health emeritus Prof. Ted Tulchinsky, Prof. Harold Sgan-Cohen and Prof. Jonathan Mann of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Faculty of Dental Medicine, charged then that German’s position was based on “populist arguments, supported by amateur studies,” and advocated the restoration of fluoridation.