In an announcement made by The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fluoride levels in drinking water will be adjusted to prevent excessive exposure, which can lead to a potentially harmful condition known as fluorosis especially in children age 8 and under as teeth are still forming. Dental fluorosis is most often very mild in U.S. cases, showing up as barely visible lacy white marks or spots on tooth enamel. More severe forms of dental fluorosis that cause dark staining and pitting of the tooth, are extremely rare in the U.S.
The HHS and EPA are recommending the new standard for fluoride be reduced to 0.7 milligrams per liter of water versus current regulations that can allow as much as 1.2 milligrams per liter.
Water fluoridation began in the U.S. in the 1940's and was widely circulated throughout municipalities by 1960. The National Institute of Health had determined that a concentration of fluoride of 1mg/L led to better oral health and prevention of cavities.
Exposure to other sources of fluoride include toothpastes, mouthwashes and dental treatments that have become more widely used in recent decades, increasing ones risk for fluorosis.
Controversy has been linked to fluoride since 1945 when Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first city to receive fluoridated water. According to the Chemical and Engineering News Web site, in recent years, towns and cities that have held voter referenda on fluoridation have rejected its use about half the time.
The site goes on to say that excessive fluoride exposure has been linked to thyroid, kidney and cardiac conditions as well as impaired brain and nervous system function.
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