Fluoride in Tap Water: What You Should Know

Fluoride is in tap water has not been around since the 1940’s, like much of the rest of the United States. The practice of adding fluoride to municipal supplies has come under increased scrutiny. Many communities are taking a second look at fluoridation levels and motivations, and as the debate continues, it’s a good idea to know some basics about fluoride and its legacy in this country.

If you want to know if your municipal water provider has fluoride, you can find out more on your states website and read the Consumer Confidence Reports. Some systems offer a mixture of fluoridated and non-fluoridated water.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency (HHS) revised what defined acceptable fluoride levels:

“…water systems practicing fluoridation adjust their fluoride content to 0.7 mg/L (parts per million), as opposed to the previous temperature-dependent optimal levels ranging from 0.7 mg/L to 1.2 mg/L. There is no change regarding federal health officials’ strong and long-standing support regarding the value of fluoridation of drinking water.”

Some water suppliers add fluoride to its water source, while others provide a mixture of fluoridated and non-fluoridated water

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Fluoride is a fairly common element that naturally occurs in both water and plant life. The term fluoride typically refers to groups of chemical compounds that include fluorine. Surface water (lakes, rivers, streams) contain relatively low concentrations of fluoride (0.01–0.3 ppm, parts per million), while ground water sources tend to vary based on their exposure to minerals containing fluorine compounds, which can gradually leach into the water. Pollution in the atmosphere and other natural events like volcanic activity can also influence levels of naturally-occurring fluoride in water supplies.

Since plant life relies heavily on water, most forms of plants and vegetation contain various levels of fluoride.

The most common use for artificially-created fluoride is the treatment of cavities and supporting dental health. Fluoride has been widely shown to prevent, and even reverse, tooth decay, and has been added to many city water supplies throughout the country as a result.

Fluoride in Tap Water: The Basics

After the link was found between its impact on dental health, fluoride made its first appearance in water supplies in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945 by a process called fluoridation. This involves adding fluoride to a municipal water supply at anywhere between 0.7 and 1.2 ppm (considered the safe and effective range for fluoride additives.) 0.7 is widely considered the safest level of concentration, as well as the optimal range for preventing tooth decay.

Today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 72% of Americans have access to fluoridated water in their homes or communities. A strong proponent of fluoridated water, the CDC hopes to increase this number to closer to 80% by 2020.

Despite the CDC’s strong backing, however, fluoride in drinking water is not without its critics. For example, recent studies have linked increased fluoride consumption in pregnant women to reduced IQ levels in their children, while other, less alarming studies simply fail to corroborate the dental hygiene benefits of fluoridated water.

Is There Fluoride in My Water?

The CDC provides a quick-reference guide for you to determine whether or not your home is one of the 72% of American homes currently served by fluoridated water. However, though California is not in a state-wide program, some local municipalities do choose to do this.

Fluoride Removal: The Whys and Hows

If your home has fluoridated water and you’re concerned about it, there are water treatment methods available that specifically address and remove water additives like fluoride.

Reverse osmosis systems for example, are designed to remove hard-to-filter chemicals like fluoride, that many other filtration

systems can miss.

In addition to reverse osmosis water treatment, Culligan provides additional options for filtration systems that safely and effectively remove fluoride and other additives from your drinking water. Whether you want to remove just fluoride, or have other concerns — like chlorine or iron, your local Culligan Man can test your water to determine what’s in it (for free!), and help you make the right choice for improving your home’s water.