Safety l Fluoridation Facts 43 22. Does the total intake of fluoride from air, water and foods in a community in the United States with drinking water fluoridated at the recommended level pose significant health risks? Answer. The total intake of fluoride from air, water and foods in a community in the United States with drinking water fluoridated at the recommended level does not pose significant health risks. Fact. Fluoride from the Air The atmosphere normally contains negligible concentrations of airborne fluorides. Studies reporting the levels of fluoride in air in the United States suggest that ambient fluoride contributes very little to a person’s overall fluoride intake.9,30 Fluoride from Water For generations, millions of people have lived in areas where fluoride is found naturally in drinking water in concentrations as high as or higher than those recommended to prevent tooth decay. Research conducted among these people confirms the safety of fluoride in the water supply.1-5 A ten-year comparison study of long-time residents of Bartlett and Cameron, Texas, where the water supplies contained 8.0 and 0.4mg/L of fluoride, respectively, included examinations of organs, bones and tissues. Other than a higher prevalence of dental fluorosis in the Bartlett residents (8.0 mg/L fluoride), the study indicated that long-term consumption of fluoride from water and food sources (resident average length of fluoride exposure was 36.7 years), even at these levels more than 10 times higher than recommended for tooth decay prevention, resulted in no clinically significant physiological or functional effects.5 In the United States, the natural level of fluoride in ground water varies from very low levels to over 4 mg/L. Public water systems in the U.S. are monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires that public water systems not exceed a naturally occurring fluoride level of 4 mg/L.31 The recommended level for fluoride in drinking water in the United States has been established at 0.7 mg/L by the U.S. Public Health Service.16 This level has been established to reduce tooth decay while minimizing the occurrence of dental fluorosis. Individuals living in a community with water fluoridation get a portion of their daily fluoride intake from fluoridated water and a portion from dietary sources which would include foods and other beverages. Water and water-based beverages are the chief source of dietary fluoride intake. Conventional estimates are that approximately 75% of dietary fluoride comes from water and water-based beverages.33,34 When considering water fluoridation, an individual consuming one liter of water fluoridated at 0.7 mg/L receives 0.7 milligram of fluoride. Fluoride in Foods In looking at the fluoride content of foods and beverages over time, it appears that fluoride intake from dietary sources has remained relatively constant.35 Except for products prepared (commercially or by the individual) or cooked with fluoridated water, the fluoride content of most foods and beverages is not significantly different between fluoridated and nonfluoridated communities. When fluoridated water is used to prepare or cook the samples, the fluoride content of foods and beverages is higher. This difference has remained relatively constant over time.33,35 Launched in 2004 and updated in 2005, the National Fluoride Database is a comprehensive, nationally representative database of the fluoride concentration in 427 foods across 27 food groups and beverages consumed in the United States.34 This database for fluoride was designed for use by epidemiologists and health researchers to estimate fluoride intake and to assist in the investigation of the relationships between fluoride intake and human health. The database contains fluoride values for beverages, water, and some lower priority foods.34 The fluoride content of fresh solid foods in the United States generally ranges from 0.01 to 1.0 part per million.35 The foods highest in fluoride are fish and shellfish, reflective of the fluoride found in ocean water, and the presence or absence of bone fragments such as those in sardines.35 (Fluoride has an affinity for calcified tissues such as bones.) Cereals, baked goods, breads, and other grain products were estimated to have fluoride concentrations between 0.06 and 0.72 ppm. The majority of vegetables (leafy, root, legumes, green or yellow) have a relatively low fluoride concentration (ranging from 0.01 to 0.5 ppm)
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