Must Be Something in the Water

HHS and EPA team up to reevaluate, reestablish guidelines for fluoride in drinking water

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have announced new standards and guidelines for fluoride in drinking water.

The agencies are working together to ensure maximum protection for Americans in support of good dental health and tooth-decay prevention, especially in children. Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed the recommended level of fluoride be set at the lower end of the current optimal range while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiates a review of the maximum amount of fluoride allowed in drinking water.

Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, Peter Silva, said the EPA is working to ensure people benefit from fluoride's dental-preventive qualities while avoiding the unwanted health effects from too much fluoride, which can include fluorosis (tiny white specks on teeth), a cosemetic dental condition.

The guidelines follow a recommendation from the National Academies of Science (NAS) suggesting the EPA update its assessments to consider all sources of fluoride available today. Fluoride is found in toothpastes and mouth rinses, supplements and dental applications. Far fewer sources of fluoride existed when water fluoridation was first introduced in the United States in the 1940s.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named water fluoridation one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.

HHS is looking to publish finalized guidelines for water fluoridation by spring 2011.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 12, 2011
Last Updated:
January 12, 2011