On Tuesday of this week (Aug. 26), Israel officially stopped adding fluoride to its water supplies. The decision has “been lauded by various rights groups, but criticized by many in the medical and dental communities as a serious mistake,” as the Times of Israel put it.
The tasteless, colorless chemical is put into water for the purpose of reducing cavities, but critics say that it amounts to mass medication, and forces people to consume the substance whether they want to or not.
By law, fluoride had been added to public drinking water supplies of large Israeli towns since the 1970s, and until this week about 70 percent of the country was fluoridated. (For comparison, 67 percent of Americans receive fluoridated tap water.)
Health Minister Yael German announced last year that she planned to end the practice, but faced a wave of backlash. Undeterred, she said earlier this month that she had nevertheless decided to end the process effective Aug. 26, and to not even allow optional fluoridation in communities that support it.