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Fluoride in Tap Water

Fluoride in Your Water: How Much is Too Much?

Since 2005, the Environmental Working Group and other advocacy groups have been pushing the federal government and municipal water utilities to reduce the levels of fluoride in drinking water to protect children from the harmful effects of excessive fluoride exposures.

Unlike other chemicals monitored by water systems, fluoride is intentionally added to drinking water, even though research clearly shows that fluoride is most effective when used topically in toothpaste and not ingested. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, public water systems serving 74 percent of Americans currently serve fluoridated water.

In 2011, responding to a lawsuit by Fluoride Action Network, EWG and Beyond Pesticides, the Department of Health and Human Services recommended that water utilities reduce the amount of fluoride added to water to 0.7 ppm – down from the previous federal recommendation allowing up to 1.2 ppm fluoride in drinking water. This new recommendation took effect in 2015.

The CDC states that if infant formula is mixed with fluoridated water, the baby’s teeth might be affected by dental fluorosis, which appears as white spot markings on the teeth. EWG recommends that baby formula be mixed with fluoride-free water, especially for an infant whose diet is exclusively powdered baby formula.

Excess fluoride exposure poses dangers that range from discolored teeth, to changes in the bones, to harm to the brain and nervous system. In 2017, a groundbreaking new study found that exposure to fluoride during pregnancy can harm IQ and cognitive development in children.

EWG’s review of fluoride’s benefits to teeth, and its potential toxicity, suggests that fluoridated water has some significant drawbacks – especially compared to treatments that apply fluoride directly to teeth, such as fluoridated toothpaste or other dental treatments.

Fluoride belongs on your teeth – not in your body.


Tips and links for EWG research on fluoride


Learn how much fluoride is in your tap water.

By law, municipal water utilities must publish annual water quality reports that will disclose fluoridation levels for your water. Look online or call your utility for a copy.

Filter your tap water.

A reverse osmosis filter can remove fluoride from your tap water. Consider installing a filter, especially if you have young children or if your tap water contains more fluoride than the HHS-recommended maximum, 0.7 parts per million.

Bottled water is not the answer.

Nearly half of all bottled water comes from municipal tap water, most of which is fluoridated.

Use fluoride-free water for infant formula.

Infants can be exposed to excessive fluoride when fluoridated tap water is mixed with concentrated or powdered formula.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

New research finds fluoride exposure during pregnancy can harm children’s intelligence.

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News and Analysis
Article
Thursday, July 7, 2011

EWG comments to the Environmental Protection Agency supporting a phaseout of sulfuryl fluoride, an insecticide and fumigant

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Testimonies & Official Correspondence
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposes that public water systems cut back on the amount of fluoride they add to drinking water.

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News and Analysis
Article
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

EWG comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urging the federal government to further lower its recommendation for fluoride levels in drinking water.

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Testimonies & Official Correspondence
Monday, July 13, 2009

EWG analysis of combined effects of water fluoridation and disinfection treatments on lead pipes.

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News and Analysis
Article
Friday, June 26, 2009

EWG science review of fluoride and dental health, and why dogs might be at risk from high-fluoride diets.

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Reports & Consumer Guides
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ask EWG: What can I do about fluoride in my water?

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Video
Thursday, August 16, 2007

EWG analysis of Metropolitan Water District fluoridation plans, and potential risks to children’s health.

 
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Reports & Consumer Guides
Friday, July 7, 2006

EWG, Fluoride Action Network and Beyond Pesticides demand immediate suspension of all uses of fluoride-based pesticide, sulfuryl fluoride.

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News Release
Monday, March 20, 2006

National Academy of Sciences report calls for lowering fluoride levels in drinking water.

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News Release
Wednesday, September 21, 2005

EWG, Beyond Pesticides and Fluoride Action Network challenge the safety of new food tolerances issued by the EPA for the fluoride-based pesticide, sulfuryl fluoride.

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News Release
Monday, June 6, 2005

EWG petitions the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to evaluate cancer-causing potential of fluoride in tap water.

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News Release
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