USA – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed new standards for fluoride added to bottled water in a bid to check the health benefits and the risks associated with it.

FDA has proposed to lower the amount of fluoride in bottled water if added by manufacturers in line with the recommendation by the U.S. Public Health Service for community water systems.

According to the agency, the recommendation looks to provide an optimal balance between the prevention of dental caries and the risk of dental fluorosis.

If the recommendation is passed, manufacturers who add fluoride to bottled water will be required to adhere to the new standards by lowering the allowable level of fluoride in bottled water.

The proposed rule would not affect the allowable levels for fluoride in bottled water to which fluoride is not added by the manufacturer, but which may contain fluoride from its source water.

The new regulations would amend the allowable levels of fluoride added to bottled water to 0.7 milligrams per litre.

“Fluoride provides an important public health benefit by helping to reduce cavities and tooth decay,” said Susan Mayne, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

“But too much fluoride over a long time when teeth are forming under the gums can cause changes in the appearance of tooth enamel, called dental fluorosis.

“Striking the right balance is especially important for children under the age of 8 as their permanent teeth are still forming.

“It’s the FDA’s responsibility to ensure that if fluoride is added to bottled water, it is added at appropriate levels so that consumers receive its important health benefit while also being protected from potential adverse effects.”

The proposed rule, “Proposed Rule to Revise the Allowable Level of Fluoride in Bottled Water to which Fluoride Has Been Added” seeks to ensure that consumers receive its dental benefits while avoiding unintentional excess exposure.

The FDA said the proposal is based on findings from research on optimal concentrations of fluoride that balances its benefits in preventing tooth decay with its risk of causing dental fluorosis, a condition most often characterised by white patches on teeth.

However, according to some scientists and environmental groups, the proposed limit is still too high and poses a danger to human health.