NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 27, 2006

High levels of fluoride that occur naturally in drinking water for about 200,000 U.S. residents can cause tooth and bone damage, according to the National Research Council.

The researchers -- who did not examine the benefits or risks of artificially fluoridated drinking water, which contains between 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams of fluoride per liter -- focused on communities with naturally fluoridated water that contains the maximum level of four milligrams of fluoride per liter.

  • The researchers found that about 10 percent of children in such communities develop severe enamel fluorosis, a condition that causes enamel loss on teeth, pitting and discoloration.
  • Additionally, the committee said that several studies indicate high levels of fluoride in drinking water increases risk for bone fractures.

Panel Chair John Doull, a retired professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Kansas, says the committee concluded unanimously that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should lower the maximum contaminant level goal for fluoride.

The committee further recommended that the EPA conduct a new risk assessment to determine safe levels of fluoride in drinking water. The EPA could then use enforcement provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act to compel water utilities to reduce fluoride levels.

Most communities with fluoridated drinking water with high levels of fluoride in drinking water are located in South Carolina, with some communities located in Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia.

Source: Sharon Begley, "Government Panel Raises Concern About Fluoride," Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2006; based upon: Committee on Fluoride in Drinking Water, "Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA's Standards," National Research Council, March 2006.

For text (subscription required):


Browse more articles on Health Issues