Safety l Fluoridation Facts 39 In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a joint press release24 outlining important steps the respective agencies were taking to ensure that standards and guidelines on fluoride in drinking water continue to ensure the safety of the public while supporting good dental health, especially in children. Those actions resulted in the 2015 report issued by the U.S. Public Health Service16 regarding the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water and the EPA activity was informational to the 2016 EPA Six-Year Review 325 in which the Agency completed a detailed review of drinking water regulations including the regulation for naturally occurring fluoride in water. 19. Why did the U.S. Public Health Service issue a report in 2015 recommending 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/L) as the optimal level for fluoride in drinking water for all temperature zones in the U.S.? Answer. The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) updated and replaced its 1962 Drinking Water Standards related to community water fluoridation to establish a single value of 0.7 mg/L as the optimal concentration of fluoride in drinking water. This concentration provides the best balance of protection from tooth decay while limiting the risk of dental fluorosis.16 Fact. The previous U.S. Public Health Service recommendations for optimal fluoride concentrations were based on average ambient air temperatures of geographic areas and ranged from 0.7-1.2 mg/L. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a notice of intent in the Federal Register26 proposing that community water systems adjust the amount of fluoride to 0.7 mg/L to achieve an optimal fluoride level. The new guidance was based on several considerations that included: Scientific evidence related to effectiveness of water fluoridation on caries prevention and control across all age groups. Fluoride in drinking water as one of several available fluoride sources. Trends in the prevalence and severity of dental fluorosis. Current evidence on fluid intake in children across various ambient air temperatures. As part of the process leading to the notice of intent, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) convened a federal interdepartmental, interagency panel of scientists to review the scientific evidence relevant to the 1962 USPHS Drinking Water Standards for fluoride concentrations in drinking water in the United States and to update these recommendations based on current science. Panelists included representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.16 A public comment period followed the publication of the notice of intent during which time more than 19,000 comments were received. The vast majority (more than 18,000) were variations on a letter submitted by an organization opposing community water fluoridation. Comments received were summarized and reported to the full federal panel. The panel then spent several years reviewing each comment in light of the best available science. After completing their extensive review, the panel did not alter the recommendation based on the following: Community water fluoridation remains an effective public health strategy for delivering fluoride to prevent tooth decay and is the most feasible and cost-effective strategy for reaching entire communities. In addition to drinking water, other sources of fluoride exposure have contributed to the prevention of dental caries and an increase in dental fluorosis prevalence. Caries preventive benefits can be achieved and the risk of dental fluorosis reduced at 0.7 mg/L. Recent data do not show a convincing relationship between water intake and outdoor air temperature. Thus, recommendations for water fluoride concentrations that differ based on outdoor temperature are unnecessary.16
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