Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Fluoride is commonly found in nearly 75 percent of public water systems in the United States, and may be damaging the health of people in the country, a new study says.
Even at low levels, the fluoride, added to water because of dental health benefits, may be damaging the kidneys and livers of teens throughout the country, researchers report in a new study published Thursday in the journal Environment International.
"While the dental benefits of fluoride are widely established, recent concerns have been raised regarding the appropriateness of its widespread addition to drinking water or salt in North America," Ashley J. Malin, a researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and study first author, said in a news release.
For the study, researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for fluoride levels in blood samples of nearly 2,000 teens. Additionally, they looked at the fluoride content of tap water from more than 1,700 of their homes. None of the teens had kidney disease prior to the study.
The researchers found fluoride exposure can lead to side effects such as bone and tooth disease, renal system damage and thyroid dysfunction, among other conditions.
Other research has shown a connection between fluoride in drinking water and organ damage, including a 2018 study that found fluoride in drinking water in Sri Lanka caused liver and kidney issues there.
"This study's findings suggest that there may be potential kidney and liver health concerns to consider when evaluating fluoride use and appropriate levels in public health interventions," Malin said. "Prospective studies are needed to examine the impact of chronic low-level fluoride exposure on kidney and liver function in the U.S. population."