FDA Proposes Lowering Maximum Levels Of Flouride Allowed In Bottled Water

Federal health regulators are proposing new rules that would lower the allowable levels of fluoride in bottled water.

The FDA announced a proposed rule on April 2, citing the need to seek a balance between the benefits and risks to consumers’ teeth and health.

In 2015, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) recommended the levels of fluoride added to community water systems be lowered to 0.7 mg/L. The proposed FDA regulation would lower the limit manufacturers are allowed to add to their bottled water products to match that same PHS level.

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This rule only lowers the amount of fluoride in bottled water if it is added by manufacturers. It does not regulate the total amounts allowed overall, including any fluoride present in the water source.

Fluoride is an important chemical that is added to water and other personal care products to help reduce cavities and tooth decay. However, too much fluoride over a long period of time or when the teeth are forming under the gums can cause dental fluorosis, or changes to the appearance of the tooth enamel. It can cause dark brown and yellow staining or damaged enamel.

Extremely high levels of fluoride can cause fluoride toxicity, which leads to bone deformations, abdominal pain, nausea, seizures, vomiting, and muscle spasms.

The FDA warned that it is important to find the balance between too little and too much fluoride. This is especially important for children under eight years old whose permanent teeth are still forming. Fluoride is important, but too much fluoride can harm their dental development.

“It’s the FDA’s responsibility to ensure that if fluoride is added to bottled water, it is added at appropriate levels so that consumers receive its important health benefit while also being protected from potential adverse effects,” Dr. Susan Mayne, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a press release. “By lowering the allowable level of fluoride in bottled water following its addition by the manufacturer, we can help ensure that consumers enjoy the important health benefits of fluoride while preventing overexposure.”

Most fluoride added to bottle water is at or below the limit being proposed by the FDA. Many manufactures took the step to lower added fluoride levels after the PHS proposed new limits in 2015. Many companies already adhere to the lower 0.7 mg/L level limit.

The proposed fluoride rule will be open for public comment for 60 days. This allows the public, industry, and other parties to share comments regarding the proposed regulation with the FDA before the ruling is finalized.

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