NEW YORK (TheBlaze/AP) -- The government announced that it would be lowering the recommended amount of fluoride added to drinking water for the first time in more than 50 years.
The government is reducing the fluoride recommendation for some areas of the country. It is still up to individual municipalities and the like to decide whether or not to add fluorite to their water supplies at all. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)
Why? Because now it says people could be getting too much of the mineral compound, which was first added to public drinking water in the U.S. in the 1940s to help protect against tooth decade.
Now that the compound is in toothpaste, mouthwash and other products, in addition to the drinking water in some municipalities, health officials said a fluoride overload is causing white splotches on teeth in children. One study found about 2 out of 5 adolescents had tooth streaking or spottiness.
About 70 years ago, scientists discovered that people whose drinking water naturally had more fluoride also had fewer cavities. Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the world's first city to add fluoride to its drinking water in 1945. Six years later, a study found a dramatic decline in tooth decay among children there, and the U.S. surgeon general endorsed water fluoridation.
Since 1962, the government has been advising water systems to add fluoride to a level of 0.7 parts per million for warmer climates, where people drink more water, to 1.2 parts per million in cooler areas. The new standard is 0.7 everywhere.
Adding fluoride as a whole was — and has remained — controversial. Some people have vehemently fought adding fluoride to local water supplies. This news report details one city's consideration of adding it:
Today, about 75 percent of Americans get fluoridated water.
The change announced Monday finalizes a proposal first made four years ago. The government spent years sorting through and responding to 19,000 public comments.
"Water fluoridation is effective and safe," Dr. Maxine Feinberg, president of the American Dental Association, said in a statement. "It has now been 70 years since Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first U.S. city to begin adding fluoride to its water system. Since then, decades of studies and the experience of tens of millions of people have affirmed that water fluoridation helps prevent cavities in both children and adults. Today’s announcement is based on solid science."
Feinberg went on to say that the "health benefits [of fluoridated water] have not changed, and neither has the ADA’s commitment to bringing optimally fluoridated water to the greatest possible number of people."
Watch her statement:
Front page image via Shutterstock.