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Facing faucet facts: City fluoride too high

The amount of fluoride New Yorkers are guzzling down with each glass of tap water exceeds federal recommended levels.

The amount of fluoride New Yorkers are guzzling down with each glass of tap water exceeds federal recommended levels.

For a long time, New Yorkers could thank their plain old tap water for keeping cavities away: Since 1964, the city has added fluoride to the city’s water supply to help prevent tooth decay.

But added fluoride may be too much, according to new research. For the first time in 50 years, the federal Department of Health and Human Services last Friday proposed to lower the recommended level of fluoride in municipal drinking water to 0.7 milligrams per liter. New York currently adds 1 milligram of fluoride per liter.

The city Health Department maintains that since cities started adding fluoride to the water, tooth decay dropped from 90 percent to 60 percent. In urban areas where many cannot afford proper dental care, fluoride is an important public health tool, Dr. Mark Wolff, a dean at NYU’s College of Dentistry, told Metro.

The maximum amount of fluoride allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency to be added to city water is four parts per million, but the government organization is now
considering lowering that limit as well.

Queens Councilman Peter Vallone will introduce a bill Tuesday to completely ban fluoride from the city’s water.

The city health department will review the federal government’s 0.7 recommendation, said a Health Dept. spokeswoman.

Metro asks a dentist: Should New York lower its fluoride levels?

“When the levels were originally established, there was no other real fluoride used by consumers, so those were appropriate levels. Today, with the use of toothpaste, mouth rinses — there is even fluoride in iced tea, apple juice — it is probably not inappropriate to reduce the fluoride to 0.7 parts per million. At 0.7 we can still fight decay and still help our under-served community.” –Mark Wolff, NYU College of Dentistry

 
 
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