News roundup: the Earthshot prize, fluoride in our tap water and wood burners
Our latest monthly roundup of air and water quality news covers the first ever Earthshot Prize ceremony, a report that more fluoride will be added to UK tap water and, as we head towards winter, a call for a ban on wood burners.
An inspiring awards ceremony
It was fantastic to see the first ever awards ceremony for the Earthshot Prize last weekend. The most prestigious global environment prize in history, the awards set out to achieve five ‘Earthshots’, rewarding those working to revive our oceans, fix our climate and more.
Among those prizes was an Earthshot to clean our air: “By 2030 we choose to ensure that everyone in the world breathes clean, healthy air – at World Health Organisation standard or better”. The prize went to Takachar, an Indian company who have developed technology that can convert crop residues into sellable bio-products.
Added fluoride to tap water: a controversial move?
The Times reported that millions across the UK would soon have fluoride added to their drinking water, after a conclusion that it would help reduce tooth decay. Chief medical officer Chris Whitty commented that claims about health risks were ‘exaggerated and unevidenced’, despite debate re-emerging in recent years over its safety.
In England, research found that GP practices in the West Midlands (where water is treated with fluoride) were ‘nearly twice as likely’ to have a higher number of patients with an underactive thyroid compared to Greater Manchester, which is a non-fluoridated area.
You can read more of our thoughts on fluoride here.
Tougher restrictions needed on wood burners?
Clean air campaigners are calling for a ban on the sale of wood-burning stoves ahead of this winter. Recent reports suggested that, despite thousands of complaints about air pollution from wood burning, in reality councils rarely issue fines.
Wood burning is the biggest source of fine particle pollution here in the UK, with an even greater impact on our air than traffic. Keen to find out what could be in your postcode’s air? Check your pollutants here.