What is fluoride?
Fluorides are compounds that combine the element fluorine with another substance, usually a metal. Examples include sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, and fluoride monofluorophosphate (MFP fluoride).
Some fluorides occur naturally in soil, air, or water, although the levels of fluoride can vary widely. Just about all water has some fluoride. Fluoride is also found in plant and animal food sources.
Once inside the body, fluorides are absorbed into the blood through the digestive tract. They travel through blood and tend to collect in areas high in calcium, such as the bones and teeth.
Fluoride in drinking water
Water fluoridation began in some parts of the United States in 1945, after scientists noted that people living in areas with higher water fluoride levels had fewer cavities. Starting in 1962, the United States Public Health Service (PHS) recommended that public water supplies contain fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.
Fluoride is now used in the public drinking water supplied to about 3 out of 4 Americans. The decision to add fluoride to drinking water is made at the state or local level. The types of fluoride added to different water systems include fluorosilicic acid, sodium fluorosilicate, and sodium fluoride.
Natural drinking water sources in the US also have some fluoride in them, although the levels are much higher in some places than in others.
Association Between Maternal Fluoride Exposure During Pregnancy and IQ Scores in Offspring in Canada
The study shows from 6 cities in Canada, higher levels of fluoride exposure during pregnancy were associated with lower IQ scores in children measured at age 3 to 4 years. These findings were observed at fluoride levels typically found in white North American women. This indicates the possible need to reduce fluoride intake during pregnancy.
Can you reduce your fluoride exposure?
Even without fluoridation, the natural levels of fluoride in water in some places can be even higher than 4 mg/L. Community water systems in such areas are required to lower the fluoride level below the acceptable standard. But the levels in private water sources, such as wells, may still be higher.
For people concerned that they or their families may be exposed to too much fluoride, there are some steps you can take to reduce your exposure.
Know the level of fluoride in your drinking water. If your drinking water comes from a public source, you can find out about the levels of fluoride in your drinking water by contacting your local community water system. People who get their drinking water from a private source such as a well can have the fluoride levels tested by a reputable laboratory. You need to install a water purifier in your home because it can effectively remove fluoride from the water.
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