Monday, January 10, 2011

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Impose EVEN Higher Standards on Fluoride in Drinking Water?

But, will the higher standards lead to even more regulation to the detriment of dental public health?
Environmental health groups are now looking to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to impose tougher standards on fluoride in drinking water, building on a decision Friday by the federal Department of Health and Human Services to lower the recommended level for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The HHS move came in the wake of a government study showing that about 2 out of 5 adolescents have tooth streaking or spottiness because of excessive fluoride. In extreme cases, teeth can become pitted.

The dangers may go beyond cosmetic issues. The EPA released two new reviews of research on fluoride Friday. One study found that prolonged, high intake of fluoride can increase the risk of brittle bones, fractures and crippling bone abnormalities.

Since 1962, the fluoridated water standard has been set at a range of 0.7 parts per million for warmer climates, where people's water intake was greater, to 1.2 parts per million in cooler regions. The new proposal from HHS would fix the recommended level at 0.7.

Although HHS recommends the level, it is up to the EPA, which regulates drinking water, to set a legal, enforceable standard. The EPA said Friday it is reviewing whether to lower the maximum allowable level of fluoride in drinking water from the current 4 parts per million -- a move urged by several consumer groups.

I understand protocols change as the science does, but I am afraid that more cities and counties will withdraw from fluoridation completely.

If this happens, the problem of dental caries that continues to be a major public health problem in America will only get worse - particularly in poor and immigrant communities.