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US lowers fluoride in water; M.U.D. in full compliance

Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 3:31 pm

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — The Metro Utility Department is in full compliance with government recommendations according to M.U.D. manager Rick Garland in response to the recent move to lower the recommended amount of fluoride added to drinking water for the first time in more than 50 years.

Some people are getting too much fluoride because it is also now put in toothpaste, mouthwash and other products, health officials said last week in announcing the change.

“Last year they sent out a reduction (recommendation),” said Metro Utility Department general manager Rick Garland. “We do whatever we have to do to comply with the rules. The range of detection is 0.20 to 1.00.

“Our levels in the samples that we send off to the state is a 0.65 on average. Whenever they send out a reduction on that, we have to comply and we’ve had no violations at all.”

Too much fluoride has become a common cause of white splotches on teeth in children. One study found about 2 out of 5 adolescents had tooth streaking or spottiness.

Fluoride is a mineral in water and soil. About 70 years ago, scientists discovered that people whose drinking water naturally had more fluoride also had fewer cavities.

Since 1962, the government has been advising water systems to add fluoride to a level of 0.7 parts per million for warmer climates, where people drink more water, to 1.2 parts per million in cooler areas. The new standard is 0.7 everywhere.

Grand Rapids, Mich., became the world’s first city to add fluoride to its drinking water in 1945. Six years later, a study found a dramatic decline in tooth decay among children there, and the U.S. surgeon general endorsed water fluoridation.

But adding fluoride was — and has remained — controversial. Some people have vehemently fought adding fluoride to local water supplies.

Today, about 75 percent of Americans get fluoridated water.

The change announced last week finalizes a proposal first made four years ago. The government spent years sorting through and responding to 19,000 public comments.

“All of our customers can see the CCR report, which is the quality of water for 2014,” said Garland, adding that the report was available at the M.U.D. office, which is located on state Route 55 in Lynchburg.

—By MIKE STOBBE, Associated Press

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