New U.S. fluoride levels proposed

Jan. 7, 2011 at 5:32 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. government plans to recommend lower levels of fluoride in drinking water because of increases in fluorosis, which can stain children's teeth.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are proposing the recommended maximum amount for fluoride in drinking water be set at 0.7 milligrams per liter of water, replacing the existing allowable range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter, an EPA release said Friday.

That range has been in force since 1962.

In the 1940s fluoride was first added to U.S. water supplies to help prevent tooth decay in children 8 years and under, considered the tooth-forming years.

"One of water fluoridation's biggest advantages is that it benefits all residents of a community -- at home, work, school or play," Assistant HHS Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh said. "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."

Dental fluorosis in the United States appears mostly in a mild form as barely visible lacy white markings or spots on the enamel. The severe form of dental fluorosis, with staining and pitting of the tooth surface, is rare in the United States, the EPA release said.

"EPA's new analysis will help us make sure that people benefit from tooth decay prevention while at the same time avoiding the unwanted health effects from too much fluoride," said Peter Silva, assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Water.

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