40 American Dental Association In 2015 the USPHS published a final report establishing guidance for water systems that are actively fluoridating or those that may initiate fluoridation in the future.16 For community water systems that add fluoride to their water, the USPHS recommends a uniform fluoride concentration of 0.7 mg/L (parts per million [ppm]) for the entire United States to maintain caries (tooth decay) prevention benefits and reduce the risk of dental fluorosis. The USPHS further noted that surveillance of dental caries (tooth decay), dental fluorosis, and fluoride intake through the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey will be done to monitor changes that might occur following implementation of the recommendation.16 20. What is the recommendation for the maximum level of naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water contained in the 2016 EPA Six-Year Review 3? Answer. As established by the U.S. EPA, the maximum allowable level of naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water is 4 milligrams/liter (mg/L or ppm). Under the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) standard, if the naturally occurring level of fluoride in a public water supply exceeds the MCL, the water supplier is required to lower the level of fluoride below the MCL a process called defluoridation. The MCL is a federally enforceable standard.27 (Additional details regarding the EPA maximum contaminant standards can be found in the Figure 3.) Fact. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA),27 the EPA is required to periodically review the existing National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWRs) “not less often than every 6 years.” This review is a routine part of the EPA’s operations as dictated by the SDWA. In April 2002, the EPA announced the results of its preliminary revise/not revise decisions for 68 chemical NPDWRs as part of its first Six-Year Review of drinking water standards.28 Fluoride was one of the 68 items reviewed. While the EPA determined that it fell under the “Not Appropriate for Revision at this Time” category, the agency asked the National Academies (NA) to update the risk assessment for fluoride. Prior to this time, the National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC) completed a review of fluoride for the EPA which was published as “Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride” in 1993.8 The National Research Council’s Committee on Toxicology created the Subcommittee on Fluoride in Drinking Water9 which reviewed toxicologic, epidemiologic, and clinical data published since 1993, and exposure data on orally ingested fluoride from drinking water and other sources (e.g., food, toothpaste, dental rinses). Based on these reviews, the Subcommittee evaluated independently the scientific and technical basis of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) of 4 milligram per liter (mg/L or ppm) and secondary maximum contaminant level (SMCL) of 2 mg/L in drinking water. On March 22, 2006, almost three years after work began, the NRC issued a 500-page report titled Fluoride in Drinking Water A Scientific Review of the EPA’s Standards9 to advise the EPA on the adequacy of its fluoride MCLG (maximum contaminant level goal) and SMCL (secondary maximum contaminant level) to protect children and others from adverse effects. (For additional information on the EPA maximum contaminant standards, please refer to Figure 3.) The report contained two major recommendations related to the MCLG: In light of the collective evidence on various health end points and total exposure to fluoride, the committee concludes that EPA’s MCLG of 4 mg/L should be lowered. Lowering the MCLG will prevent children from developing severe enamel fluorosis and will reduce the lifetime accumulation of fluoride into bone that the majority of the committee concludes is likely to put individuals at increased risk of bone fracture and possibly skeletal fluorosis, which are particular concerns for subpopulations that are prone to accumulating fluoride in their bones.9 To develop an MCLG that is protective against severe enamel fluorosis, clinical stage II skeletal fluorosis, and bone fractures, EPA should update the risk assessment of fluoride to include new data on health risks and better estimates of total exposure (relative source contribution) for individuals. EPA should use current approaches for quantifying risk, considering susceptible subpopulations, and characterizing uncertainties and variability.9 The 2006 NRC report9 contained one major recommendation related to the Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL):
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