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Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’S Standards
beyond a cosmetic effect to create an adverse psychological effect or an adverse effect on social functioning is not known.
While a few cases of severe enamel fluorosis occasionally have been reported in populations exposed at 2 mg/L, it appears that other sources of exposure to fluoride or other factors contributed to the condition. For example, similar rates of severe enamel fluorosis were reported in populations exposed to negligible amounts of fluoride in drinking water and in populations exposed at 2 mg/L (Selwitz et al. 1995; Kumar and Swango 1999; Nowjack-Raymer et al. 1995). Thus, the committee concludes that the SMCL of 2 mg/L adequately protects the public from the most severe stage of the condition (enamel pitting).
Few new data are available on skeletal fluorosis in populations exposed to fluoride in drinking water at 2 mg/L. Thus, the committee’s evaluation was based on new estimates of the accumulation of fluoride into bone (iliac crest/pelvis) at that concentration (on average 4,000 to 5,000 mg/kg ash) and historical information on stage II skeletal fluorosis (4,300 to 9,200 mg/kg ash). A comparison of the bone concentrations indicates that lifetime exposure at the SMCL could lead to bone fluoride concentrations that historically have been associated with stage II skeletal fluorosis. However, as noted above, the existing epidemiologic evidence is insufficient for determining whether stage II skeletal fluorosis is occurring in U.S. residents, so no quantitative conclusions could be made about risks or safety at 2-mg/L exposures.
There were few studies to assess bone fracture risk in populations exposed to fluoride at 2 mg/L in drinking water. The best available study was from Finland, which provided data that suggested an increased rate of hip fracture in populations exposed to fluoride at >1.5 mg/L (Kurttio et al. 1999). However, this study alone is not sufficient to base judgment of fracture risk for people exposed to fluoride at 2 mg/L in drinking water. Thus, no quantitative conclusions could be drawn about fracture risk or safety at the SMCL.
Populations in need of special consideration when determining the MCLG and SMCL for fluoride include those at risk because their exposure to fluoride is greater than that of the average person or because they are