Health Department Statement on National Academies Research Council Report

DATE: March 23, 2006
Contact: Communication Office

BURLINGTON – The Washington D.C.-based National Academies’ National Research Council yesterday released "Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA's Standards." 

The report recommends that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lower its current limit on the amount of “naturally-occurring” levels of fluoride allowed in drinking water. The report, sponsored by the EPA, is part of an ongoing examination of agency standards.

The report does not examine the health risks or benefits associated with fluoridated drinking water systems.

Dr. Steve Arthur, dental director at the Vermont Department of Health, greeted the report with optimism, noting however, that the report findings likely affect very few Vermonters. “This report dealt only with naturally-occurring levels of fluoride in water, and is not about community water fluoridation in which fluoride is added to provide optimum levels of fluoride for improving dental health.”

According to Arthur, a very small segment of the U.S. population, estimated to be less than 1 percent, has water where the natural levels of fluoride are high—most often because their water is drawn from deep private wells.  In Vermont, there are no known sources of naturally fluoridated water that exceed current EPA standards.

The Vermont Department of Health, as well as all major dental research organizations, welcomes ongoing research on the topic of fluoride and its effect on the public's health. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited community water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century, and the Vermont Department of Health continues to endorse water fluoridation as a vital public health measure to prevent tooth decay.

Vermonters who get their water from sources such as a private well system can have their water tested to determine the level of naturally-occurring fluoride. Free water testing of privately-owned wells is also available for households with children under 4 years of age and parents can ask their dentist or physician for the water testing form.