Fluoride in Tap Water

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.

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.”

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 Tap 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. 

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 devices in big box stores and online retailers can not. 

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 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.


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