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Fluoride in Drinking Water: Is It Safe?

Answer copied by permission from the American Water Works Association's "Plain Talk About Drinking Water" (2001).

Reprinted from Plain Talk About Drinking Water, by permission. Copyright © 2001, American Water Works Association.

Q: Is the fluoride in my drinking water safe?

A: Yes. When added or naturally present in the correct amounts, fluoride in drinking water has greatly improved the dental health of American and Canadian consumers. Early studies suggesting that fluoride was a possible cancer-causing chemical proved to be incorrect. A 1993 report by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, Health Risk of Ingested Fluoride, states, “Currently allowed fluoride levels in drinking water do not pose a risk of health problems such as cancer, kidney failure, or bone disease.” Excess fluoride in water is removed by the water supplier using special treatment.

For one reason or another, about 40 percent of Americans do not have adequately fluoridated water supplies, although fluoridation is mandatory in some states. Recently, the American Dental Association changed its recommendation on dietary supplements for children, advising no fluoride supplement be given to infants younger than six months old. You may want to talk to your doctor about this.

When present even in correct amounts, fluoride and the disinfectant chloramine do make water unsuitable for use in kidney dialysis machines. Dialysis patients should check with their water supplier or dialysis center about their water source.