- BRUSSELS (Xinhua via COMTEX)
-- Belgium will ban the sale of tablets and chewing gum which contain fluoride
elements because of the risk that they might cause a brittle bone condition,
a Health Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
- But the ban will not include toothpaste with fluoride,
which protects teeth from decay, Tom Ruts said.
- The move is believed to be the first such ban in the
15-nation European Union (EU), and may spark renewed debate about the safety
of fluoride, which some countries add to public drinking water supplies
as a means of improving dental health.
- The ban will probably come into force by late August,
- Belgian Health Minister Magda Aelvoet also made comments
about the plan in the latest issue of Belgium's weekly magazine, Humo.
- Aelvoet told the magazine she hoped her EU partners would
follow the example. In these cases, a harmonization within the European
Union is of course desirable but I can't always wait until the European
Union is ready, she was quoted as saying.
- We will however communicate our official decision to
the other European member states in the hope that they will follow us swiftly,
said the minister.
- Fluoride supplements -- such as fluoride tablets and
fluoride chewing gum -- are promoted by dentists to fight dental caries.
They have been sold in Belgium without a doctor's prescription.
- The ministry made the decision after the results of a
study commissioned by an advisory board found that excessive use of fluoride
products could cause fluoride poisoning, damage the nervous system and
foster osteoporosis, where bones become weak and fragile, said the spokesman.
- Copyright 2002 XINHUA NEWS AGENCY.