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Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’S Standards
a condition that is associated with enamel loss and pitting. In addition, the majority of the committee concluded that the MCLG is not likely to be protective against bone fractures. The basis for these conclusions is expanded upon below.
Exposure to Fluoride
The major sources of exposure to fluoride are drinking water, food, dental products, and pesticides. The biggest contributor to exposure for most people in the United States is drinking water. Estimates from 1992 indicate that approximately 1.4 million people in the United States had drinking water with natural fluoride concentrations of 2.0-3.9 mg/L, and just over 200,000 people had concentrations equal to or exceeding 4 mg/L (the presented MCL). In 2000, it was estimated that approximately 162 million people had artificially fluoridated water (0.7-1.2 mg/L).
Food sources contain various concentrations of fluoride and are the second largest contributor to exposure. Beverages contribute most to estimated fluoride intake, even when excluding contributions from local tap water. The greatest source of nondietary fluoride is dental products, primarily toothpastes. The public is also exposed to fluoride from background air and from certain pesticide residues. Other sources include certain pharmaceuticals and consumer products.
Highly exposed subpopulations include individuals who have high concentrations of fluoride in drinking water, who drink unusually large volumes of water, or who are exposed to other important sources of fluoride. Some subpopulations consume much greater quantities of water than the 2 L per day that EPA assumes for adults, including outdoor workers, athletes, and people with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes insipidus. On a per-body-weight basis, infants and young children have approximately three to four times greater exposure than do adults. Dental-care products are also a special consideration for children, because many tend to use more toothpaste than is advised, their swallowing control is not as well developed as that of adults, and many children under the care of a dentist undergo fluoride treatments.
Overall, the committee found that the contribution to total fluoride exposure from fluoride in drinking water in the average person, depending on age, is 57% to 90% at 2 mg/L and 72% to 94% at 4 mg/L. For high-water-intake individuals, the drinking-water contribution is 86% to 96% at 2 mg/L and 92% to 98% at 4 mg/L. Among individuals with an average water-intake rate, infants and children have the greatest total exposure to fluoride, ranging from 0.079 to 0.258 mg/kg/day at 4 mg/L and 0.046 to 0.144 mg/kg/day at 2 mg/L in drinking water. For high-water-intake individuals exposed to fluoride at 4 mg/L, total exposure ranges from 0.294