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EPA denies petition to ban adding 'fluoridation chemicals' to water supplies

ADA president applauds decision 'on the side of sound science'

February 27, 2017

By Michelle Manchir

The health benefits of fluoride include "having fewer cavities, less severe cavities, less need for fillings and removing teeth and less pain and suffering due to tooth decay," the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Feb. 17.

The statement came as part of a detailed, 50-page response to a petition from activist groups opposed to fluoridation, which sought a ban on what it called the "addition of fluoridation chemicals to water" because, among other listed reasons, "neurotoxicity is a hazard of fluoride exposure."

The ADA released a statement Feb. 27 applauding the petition denial, calling the decision "scientifically sound."

"It is always heartening when our government comes down on the side of sound science," said ADA President Gary Roberts in the statement. "Public health policy recommending community water fluoridation results from years of scientifically rigorous analysis of the amount of fluoride people receive from all sources."

In denying the petition, the EPA said that the petitioners had "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 went on to state that the petition "ignores a number of basic data quality issues associated with the human studies associated with the human studies it relies upon." The EPA also notes that it and other authoritative bodies had previously reviewed many of the studies cited by the petitioners as evidence and found significant limitations in using them to draw conclusions.

In laying out the efficacy of community water fluoridation in public health, the EPA stated "the benefits of community water fluoridation have been demonstrated to reduce dental caries, which is one of the most common childhood diseases and continues to be problematic in all age groups. Left untreated, decay can cause pain, school absences, difficulty concentrating, and poor appearance, all contributing to decreased quality of life and ability to succeed."

The ADA has long supported community water fluoridation as a safe and effective way to combat tooth decay. For more information, visit ADA.org/fluoride.

To read the documents associated with the petition and the EPA response, visit EPA.gov and search for "Support Documents for Fluoride Chemicals in Drinking Water Section 21 Petition."