Federal government calls for lowering fluoride levels in drinking water

For the first time in over five decades, the federal government has lowered the recommended level of fluoride in U.S. community drinking water. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its updated Public Health Service recommendations on April 27, 2015 that call for fluoride levels not exceeding 0.7 milligrams per liter. The recommended level had been 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter since standards were first adopted in 1962.

According to the new recommendations the update was made, in part, to address an increasing prevalence of dental fluorosis (a staining of teeth linked to fluoride intake), in young people, and the fact that Americans now get fluoride from multiple sources, including toothpaste and dental rinses. About 200 million people in the U.S. had fluoridated community water systems in 2012, the report stated. While the federal government recommends water fluoridation for dental health, the decision to add fluoride to community water systems is made by state and local governments.

To some scientists, including Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the reduced fluoride level is a positive development but may not go far enough. “Lowering the recommended fluoridation level to 0.7 mg per liter is very well-justified. I would in fact recommend that the level be reduced even further,” Grandjean said in a Newsweek article April 27. He is the author of Only One Chance: How Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development – and How to Protect the Brains of the Next Generation.

Grandjean, who is also a professor at the University of Southern Denmark, is among the scientists who have been calling for lowering water fluoride levels based on recent research by himself and others that has raised questions about possible negative effects of fluoride on children’s developing brains. Studies have linked it to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, thyroid problems, and even lower IQs.

“Due to the importance of having the best possible brains in the future, I think that that would suggest that we be careful about the amount of fluoride that we deliver to the population in drinking water,” he said in an NPR interview April 27. “We need to revisit those benefits to make sure that the old reports [on fluoride’s role in dental protection] are still valid for the current fluoride exposure situation,” he said.

Read the Newsweek article: U.S. Government Recommends Lower Level of Fluoride in Water

Listen to Grandjean’s interview on NPR April 27, 2015: Feds Say It’s Time To Cut Back On Fluoride In Drinking Water

Read a HHS statement on the new recommendations.

Learn more

A call for reducing fluoride levels in drinking water

Impact of fluoride on neurological development in children

Chemical Brain Drain – Grandjean’s forum for news and discussion