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EPA lowers Fluoride in Water due to Health Hazards

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are lowering the recommended amount of fluoride recommended for drinking water from 0.7 – 1.2 mg per liter to 0.7 mg per liter. The change in policy is in response to new findings by the National Academies of Science (NAS) that excess fluoride in the diet can cause dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis.1 The following is an excerpt from an EPA report:

“At low intake levels, fluoride has been shown to have therapeutic value in the prevention of dental caries; however, slightly higher levels, particularly in children during the period of enamel development can lead to dental fluorosis, a condition in which the enamel covering of the teeth fails to crystallize properly. Possible resulting problems include enamel defects ranging from barely discernable markings to brown stains and surface pitting. Prolonged high intake of fluoride, at any age, can result in skeletal fluorosis, a condition which may increase bone brittleness, and in a potential increase in risk of bone fracture. In high-dose cases, severe bone abnormalities can develop, crippling the affected individual.”2

The HHS noted that access to fluoride has increased and that health and safety concerns prompted the change in policy. The HHS published, “Water is now one of several sources of fluoride. Other common sources include dental products such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, prescription fluoride supplements, and fluoride applied by dental professionals… This updated recommendation is based on recent EPA and HHS scientific assessments to balance the benefits of preventing tooth decay while limiting any unwanted health effects.”3

Comprehensive evaluations of many patient case studies appear in EPA reports. One patient, for example, was cited as contracting severe dental and skeletal fluorosis due to the fact that he drank a lot of water because he lived in the dry climate of Arizona. The study reads, “He presented with neurological deficits and severe weakness in both legs. Fluorosis was confirmed in an extracted tooth in which fluoride content ranged from 614 to 5299 ppm, depending on the part of the tooth….The characteristic vertebral changes of skeletal fluorosis and severe osteophytosis were probably the basis for the patient’s neurological deficits…. the neurological symptoms are adequately explained by the marked narrowing of the sagittal diameter of the cervical and lumbar spinal cord and the vertebral osteophytosis secondary to fluorosis. Neurological deficits occurred as a manifestation of spinal cord and nerve root bony compression.”4

[1] “Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards.” 2006 National Research Council (NRC) report.
[2] EPA, 820-R-10-017, “Fluoride: Dose-Response Analysis For Non-cancer Effects.” 1-08, p xiv.
[3] “HHS and EPA announce new scientific assessments and actions on fluoride.” US Dept. Health & Human Services, news release, 1-7-2011.
[4] EPA, 820-R-10-017, “Fluoride: Dose-Response Analysis For Non-cancer Effects.” 1-08, p 15.