The Environmental Protection Agency has rejected a groupâ€™s petition to ban fluoride from drinking water. The group had claimed that water fluoridation has a negative impact on citizensâ€™ IQ. The EPA said that science does not support the outcome, noting that fluoridation has significantly reduced oral disease and tooth decay in communities with fluoridated water.
The American Dental Association lauded the EPA's decision, saying it was reassuring that the agency came "down on the side of sound science."
In November 2016, a group against community water fluoridation petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the practice of adding fluoridating chemicals to drinking water. The petition was started with the claim that high levels of fluoride in community drinking water sources across the country negatively affect the IQ of citizens who consume the water. The EPA has rejected the petition due to a lack of scientifically backed evidence.
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Over 211 million American citizens receive water from community sources that have been treated with fluoridating chemicals. Communities across the country fluoridate drinking water supplies as part of efforts to protect individuals from dental disease.
In response to the EPA’s rejection of the ban, American Dental Association (ADA) President Gary Roberts said, “It is always heartening when our government comes down on the side of sound science. Public health policy recommending community water fluoridation results from years of scientifically rigorous analysis of the amount of fluoride people receive from all sources.”
The EPA’s justification for the denial of the petition was published in February’s issue of the Federal Register. In the justification, the EPA explained, “the petition has not set forth a scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any persons have suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride in the U.S. through the purposeful addition of fluoridation chemicals to drinking water or otherwise from fluoride exposure in the U.S."
The EPA’s justification further clarified, "When an association is suggested between an exposure and a disease outcome, the studies need to be assessed to determine whether the effect is truly because of exposure or if alternate explanations are possible. The way to do that is to adjust for potential confounders, such as diet, behavior, and socioeconomic status.”
The benefits of water fluoridation are explained on the ADA’s website, where interested individuals can read fluoridation facts, news articles, and clinical guidelines explaining the benefits of community water fluoridation. According to the website, more than 70 years of community water fluoridation has been shown to be safe and effective in preventing tooth decay by at least 25 percent in both children and adults.
"Water fluoridation is effective and safe. Today's decision by the EPA is based on solid science,” says Roberts.