Fluoridation Practice l Fluoridation Facts 81 systems can provide the recommended level of fluoride within a narrow control range of the target of 0.7mg/L.41,42 Additional design features such as the use of a day tank (that holds only one day’s supply of fluoride) can limit the amount of fluoride that can be added to a water system in a 24-hour period and is the most reliable method to ensure overfeed protection.4 The State Office of Drinking Water, or similar state agency, will normally establish engineering requirements for safety. Additional standards and references on best engineering practice are available from the American Water Works Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.4,43 54. Does fluoride at levels used in fluoridation corrode water pipes? Answer. No. Allegations that fluoridation causes corrosion of water pipes are not supported by the best available scientific evidence. Fact. The process of adding fluoride to water has minimal impact on the acidity or pH of drinking water and therefore will not corrode water pipes. Corrosion of drinking water pipes is related primarily to induced electrical current between dissimilar metals. Other contributing factors include the dissolved oxygen concentration, water temperature, acidity/alkalinity (pH), hardness, salt concentration, hydrogen sulfide content and the presence of certain bacteria. Under some water quality conditions, a small increase in the acidity of drinking water that is already slightly acidic may be observed after treatment with alum, chlorine, fluorosilicic acid or sodium fluorosilicate. In such cases, further water treatment to adjust the pH to neutralize the acid for corrosion control in water distribution systems is standard procedure in water plants.44 The process of adding fluoride to water has minimal impact on the acidity or pH of drinking water and therefore will not corrode water pipes. Note that the Water Quality Report or Consumer Confidence Report that all water systems must make available to customers on a yearly basis, may list the pH of the system’s finished water.45 Control of neutral pH (7.0) is essential as part of corrosion control requirements. Water facilities typically maintain a pH of between 7.0 and 8.0 as good practice indicating that the water leaving the plant is slightly alkaline and non-acidic.46 55. Does fluoride at levels used in water fluoridation corrode glass, concrete or other surfaces in water plants? Answer. No. A correctly engineered and maintained system will not result in damage to the water plant. Fact. Fluorosilicic acid in a concentrated form can be corrosive if not correctly handled. The concentrated fluorosilicic acid is 75% water, and 25% fluorosilicic acid. Up to 1% of the fluorosilicic acid can be other acids including hydrogen fluoride. Hydrogen fluoride is volatile near room temperature so it will evaporate from the solution if the system is not properly engineered and maintained. The evaporation process occurs at an extremely slow rate. Less than 1% of fluorosilicic acid will be lost over a month from the evaporation of hydrogen fluoride. However, only a small release of hydrogen fluoride may be very corrosive to concrete, glass, and electrical components.30 If a water system is reporting problems with corrosion from evaporating hydrogen fluoride in the storage room or fluoride handling room (i.e. the glass in the facility has become “frosted”), the system is being inadequately maintained. The storage tank and other locations in the fluorosilicic acid feed system may not be sealed or correctly vented and hydrogen fluoride gas can be released (leaked) at those points. All fluoride products storage, handling, and feed systems should be vented to the outside of the building and the system and piping should be pressure tested (low pressure is sufficient) to identify possible locations of leaks. Leaks should be promptly corrected.30 With no system leaks and proper venting to outside the building, there will be no corrosion problems.30
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