EPA Wants To Lower Fluoride In Water, Citing Dental Risks

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials are recommending that <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">fluoride levels in United States drinking water should be lowered, wrote WebMD. Apparently, the high levels have been linked to dental problems.

The LA Times said that the move followed a government study in which it was revealed that two out of five teens have tooth streaking or spots—dental florosis—a result of too much fluoride and a condition that can, in the worst of cases, lead to pitting of the teeth.

The HHS is looking to have the levels decreased from the current 0.7 to 1.2 milligram range to 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, said Web MD. The recommendation will not be effective immediately and will likely be published in the Federal Register with a 30-day public comment period, said WebMD. Meanwhile, the EPA said it would review fluoride levels, consulting with recent research, noted WebMD.

”Today’s announcement is part of our ongoing support of appropriate fluoridation for community water systems, and its effectiveness in preventing tooth decay throughout one’s lifetime,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, in a news release, quoted WebMD.
“These guidelines are voluntary guidelines and the decisions [about water fluoridation] are made by state and local municipalities,” J. Nadine Gracia, MD, chief medical officer in the office of the assistant secretary for health at HHS told WebMD. “What we are proposing is based on the most up to date science,” she added, noting that final recommendations could potentially be issued this spring.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is pleased with the recommendation saying, “It marks the government’s belated recognition that many Americans are at risk from excess fluoride in drinking water and other sources,” Jane Houlihan, EWG’s senior vice president for research, told reporters during a telephone briefing, quoted WebMD.

Fluoride, while helping reduce tooth decay significantly, is now present in a wide variety of dental products, making it much more ubiquitous than when it was first included in the drinking water supply. Introduced in drinking water in the United States in 1945, by 2008 most—64 percent—of this country’s people had access to fluoridated water, said the HHS, wrote WebMD.

Fluoride, in addition to being in toothpaste, dental products, and drinking water, is also found, said the HHS, in mouth rinses, prescription fluoride treatments and similar treatments applied in dental offices, as well as in infant formulas and other drinks that are prepared with fluoridated water, pointed out WebMD. There is a correlation between increased fluoride intake and the incidence of dental fluorosis, with more youth—about 41 percent of teens age 12 to 15 impacted—said WebMD, citing surveys.

The LA Times point out that, based on two reviews just released by the EPA, high fluoride intakes can also increase the risk for skeletal damage, including fractures, and significant bone abnormalities, said the LA Times.

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