Granby reduces fluoride levels following new guidelines
For the first time in more than 50 years the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) has amended its recommendations for adding fluoride to community water systems.
The PHS has reduced the optimum recommended amount of fluoride in municipal water systems to a maximum of 0.7 milligrams per liter. The previous recommended range, from 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams, was changed this year for the first time since 1962.
Fluoride levels in Granby’s water supply vary depending on whether the water comes from the North Service Area or the South Service Area, two separate water systems providing public water service to community residents. Historically the fluoride levels in the two different service areas have been 1.1 milligrams per liter.
Following the new recommendations the North Service Area began reducing the amount of fluoride added to the water system. Granby Town Manager Wally Baird explained the levels in the North Service Area are already down to 0.9 milligrams per liter, and the Town plans to continue to reduce North Service Area down to the recommended level of 0.7 milligrams.
The South Service Area’s fluoride levels will remain at 1.1 milligrams per liter. No fluoride is added to the water in the South Service Area, explained Superintendent of the South Service Area Doug Bellatty. Instead the water levels in the South Service Area are naturally occurring.
Bellatty explained why the fluoride levels in the South Service Area will remain the same.
“The only process available to communities to lower the naturally occurring levels is through reverse osmosis,” he said, “which is extremely expensive and energy consuming.”
Bellatty pointed out that while the recommendation levels have been dropped, the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) — the highest level of a contaminant allowed in drinking water — for fluoride is 4 milligrams per liter.
According to the 15-page report put out by the PHS, which is available online by searching for “Public Health Service recommendation for fluoride,” the recent changes in fluoride recommendations were a response to an increased incidence of fluorosis, or visible changes in tooth enamel. Fluorosis can range from, “barely visible lacy white markings in milder cases to pitting of the teeth in rare, severe form.” The report states that fluorosis in permanent teeth is a possible risk only from the time of birth through 8 years of age, when the maturation of teeth enamel is complete.
The report states that increases in fluorosis have been occurring since the 1980s, because of increases in fluoride intake from other sources, such as fluoridated toothpaste and other food and beverage products made with water containing fluoride.
Fluoride is added to drinking water to help prevent tooth decay in the general population. Since the 1960s the U.S. has seen an overall decline of 30 percent in tooth decay in the teenage population.
The report also states that 12,341 community water systems add fluoride to their drinking water, covering an estimated 200 million people. The water fluoridation program began in the U.S. in 1945.
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When the East Troublesome Fire raged across Grand County last October, thousands of people were evacuated from the US Highway 34 corridor in 90 minutes, thanks in part to the preparation of evacuation maps.