January 7, 2011

Fluoride Levels In US Water Supply To Be Reduced

The federal government is scheduled to announce today its plans to lower the recommended levels for fluoride in water supplies "” the first such change in nearly 50 years, reports the Associated Press (AP). Getting too much fluoride causes spots on some kids' teeth, a recent government study reports.

Health officials note that most communities have fluoride in their water supplies, and toothpaste has it too. Many dentists even recommend fluoride supplements. The standard since 1962 has been a range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will review whether the maximum cutoff of 4 milligrams per liter is too high. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing a proposal to change the recommended fluoride level to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water.

A recent government report states fluoride is responsible for streaking or spotting on tooth surfaces of approximately 2 of 5 adolescents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the splotchy tooth condition, fluorosis, is unexpectedly common in kids ages 12 through 15. And it appears to have grown much more common since the 1980s.

"One of the things that we're most concerned about is exactly that," said an administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly before the release of the report. The official described the government's plans in an interview with The Associated Press (AP).

The government also is expected to release two related EPA studies which look at the ways Americans are exposed to fluoride and the potential health effects. This shift is sure to re-energize groups that still oppose it. Fluoridation has been fought for decades by people who worried about its effects.

The government is not suggesting people change their brushing or other tooth-care habits.

The American Dental Association (ADA) on Friday morning released a statement applauding the government announcement.

"The ADA has long advocated for all Americans to have the best possible oral health. The recommended level has been set at the lower optimal limit, but the health benefits of fluoridation remain.  The only real, known health risk is the dramatic increased levels of disease that are likely to afflict people without access to optimally fluoridated water. Dentistry has succeeded in preventing disease better than any other area of healthcare." said ADA President Dr. Raymond F. Gist, DDS.


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