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Fluoride stays off California’s Proposition 65 carcinogen list

Sacramento, Calif.—The state Carcinogen Identification Committee will not add fluoride to its list of known carcinogens under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986—better known as Proposition 65.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, one of five departments within the California Environmental Protection Agency, administers the CIC’s meetings and the Proposition 65 listing process. The governor appoints CIC members.

Representatives of the California Dental Association, CDA Foundation and California Statewide Fluoridation Advisory Council testified at a CIC hearing last month in which committee members reviewed scientific studies on fluoride. In addition to testimony during the hearing, CDA submitted written comments concerning the decades of practical experience and scholarly research proving fluoride’s safety in preventing tooth decay.

“Protecting the public is a top priority, and the California Dental Association is pleased that OEHHA has confirmed what evidence-based research has proven to be true: fluoride is a very safe way to prevent tooth decay,” said Dr. Andrew Soderstrom, CDA president. “With this OEHHA decision, the 23 million Californians who receive the benefits of fluoride in their community water supplies can be assured of its safety and proven track record.”

Dr. Soderstrom added that CDA and the CDA Foundation will continue to work hard to increase the number of Californians who receive the benefits of fluoride. Before CDA spurred efforts to expand fluoridation in the late 1990s, only 17 percent of the state’s population received the benefit of fluoridated water. Today that has increased to 62 percent, largely due to Assembly Bill 733, CDA-sponsored legislation approved in 1995 that required communities with 10,000 or more water connections to fluoridate when funding became available to do so.

Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986. The proposition was intended by its authors to protect California citizens and the state’s drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals.

Proposition 65 requires the governor to publish, at least annually, a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

More than 800 chemicals have been added to the Proposition 65 list since it took effect in 1986, said Sam Delson, deputy director for External and Legislative Affairs for OEHHA.

In 2011, 20 chemicals have been added to the list, including the addition of Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, or TDCPP, which was approved for listing by the Carcinogen Identification Committee at the same Oct. 12 meeting in which the committee voted not to list fluoride. The updated list was posted Oct. 28.

In preparation for the Oct. 12 meeting, the committee reviewed the document, “Evidence on the Carcinogenicity of Fluoride and its Salts.” The document was released for public comment July 8 and garnered 60 public comments for and against adding fluoride to the Proposition 65 warning list.

A variety of private citizens, health care professionals and organizations offered input on the matter, including the California Dental Association, the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and the ADA.

For more information on Proposition 65, visit the website, For more information on fluoride, visit