Safety l Fluoridation Facts 41 The prevalence of severe enamel fluorosis is very low (near zero) at fluoride concentrations below 2 mg/L. From a cosmetic standpoint, the SMCL does not completely prevent the occurrence of moderate enamel fluorosis. EPA has indicated that the SMCL was intended to reduce the severity and occurrence of the condition to 15% or less of the exposed population. The available data indicate that fewer than 15% of children will experience moderate enamel fluorosis of aesthetic concern (discoloration of the front teeth) at that concentration. However, the degree to which moderate enamel fluorosis might go beyond a cosmetic effect to create an adverse psychological effect or an adverse effect on social functioning is not known.9 Additionally, the Subcommittee identified data gaps and made recommendations for future research relevant to future revisions of the MCLG and SMCL for fluoride.9 It should be emphasized that the 2006 NRC report was not a review of fluoride as used in community water fluoridation. In fact, the 2006 NRC Report in Brief29 states: “The committee did not evaluate the risks or benefits of the lower fluoride concentrations (0.7 to 1.2 mg/L) used in water fluoridation. Therefore, the committee’s conclusions regarding the potential for adverse effects from fluoride at 2 to 4 mg/L in drinking water do not apply at the lower water fluoride levels commonly experienced by most U.S. citizens.”29 In response to the recommendations noted above from the NRC report, in 2011, the EPA completed and peer- reviewed a quantitative dose-response assessment based on the available data for severe dental fluorosis as recommended by the NRC.30 Additionally, the EPA completed and peer-reviewed a document on the environmental exposure of children and adults to fluoride and the relative source contribution for water which is needed in order to derive the MCLG from the dose-response assessment.30 These efforts were being undertaken during Six-Year Review 2 and so no action on fluoride was taken during Six-Year Review 2. In December 2016, the EPA announced the review results for the Agency’s third Six-Year Review (called Six-Year Review 3),25 in which the Agency completed a detailed review of 76 national primary drinking water regulations. The regulation for naturally occurring fluoride in water was examined as part of this review and is included among the list of regulated contaminants considered to be “Low priority and/or no meaningful opportunity” under “Not Appropriate for Revision at this Time.”25 The announcement of the results of the EPA’s Six-Year Review 3 in the Federal Register31 indicates that, with the reviews of fluoride conducted since the first Six- Year Review (including but not limited to the 2006 NRC report and the EPA Fluoride Risk Assessment and Relative Source Contribution) and noting that other contaminants are of much greater concern, the EPA is recommending that no further action be taken at this time to change the current MCL/MCLG of 4 mg/L (the maximum level of naturally occurring fluoride allowed in drinking water).31 21. What is the Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) for naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water established by the EPA? Answer. The Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) for naturally occurring fluoride in water is 2 mg/L (or ppm). This is a non-enforceable federal standard. Fact. In addition to the MCL, the EPA has established a Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) of 2.0 mg/L and requires consumer notification by the water supplier if the naturally occurring fluoride level exceeds 2.0 mg/L. The SMCL, while not federally enforceable, is intended to alert families that regular consumption of water with natural levels of fluoride greater than 2.0 mg/L by young children could cause moderate to severe dental fluorosis in the developing permanent teeth.32 The notice to be used by water systems that exceed the SMCL must contain the following points: 1. The notice is intended to alert families that children under nine years of age who are exposed to levels of fluoride greater than 2.0 mg/liter may develop dental fluorosis. 2. Adults are not affected because dental fluorosis occurs only when developing teeth are exposed to elevated fluoride levels. 3. The water supplier can be contacted for information on alternative sources or treatments that will insure the drinking water would meet all standards (including the SMCL).32
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