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Fluoride in MWRA Drinking Water

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

MWRA maintains a target fluoride level of 0.7 ppm, as recommended by the CDC and US HHS, and EPA to reduce tooth decay. MWRA has added fluoride for over 30 years, and continuously monitors the levels.  MWRA is aware that a number of people across the country sometimes raise questions about fluoride in drinking water. MWRA intends to keep an open-minded view, keep abreast of all current scientific research on the topic and pay close attention to competing viewpoints.

Even in light of recent news reports concerning fluoride, the American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend that children drink fluoridated tap water. The American Dental Association also states that it remains committed to fluoridation of public water supplies as the single most effective public health measure to help prevent tooth decay.

  • MWRA adds fluoride at its Carroll Water Treatment Plant, which serves 45 communities in eastern and metro west Massachusetts, including Boston.
  • MWRA gets fluoride from Pencco, Inc., which is manufactured in Lee Creek, North Carolina.
  • Fluoride is not added to MWRA's three Chicopee Valley Aqueduct (CVA) communities: Chicopee, South Hadley and Wilbraham.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), one of the world’s leading public health institutions, takes  strong position toward promoting fluoridation to reduce tooth decay and promote community public health.  The CDC is highly regarded for its scientific expertise and objectivity, and it is important to MWRA that CDC’s position on fluoridation is unequivocal. The summary of CDC’s views is included in the document: Achievements in Public Health, 1900 to 1999: Fluoridation to Prevent Dental Cavities.  The also CDC published a report, Ten Great Public Health Achievements — United States 1900-1999 (PDF), that listed fluoridation of public water supplies to reduce dental cavities as one of the leading public health achievements of the entire century.

Our approach is reinforced by the views of other organizations with strong public health and medical credentials that also support fluoridation including the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the World Health Organization, the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets fluoride standards to guard drinking water safety. For fluoride, 4.0 parts per million is the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG), the level below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MWRA’s level of 0.7 parts per million are well below the EPA MCLG.

In 2015, MWRA lowered the amount of fluoride added to the water it supplies in accordance with a new recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). On April 27, 2015, the CDC released a recommendation that water suppliers reduce their fluoride dosage to 0.7 milligrams per liter (mg/l) from a range between 0.7 mg/l and 1.2 mg/l. According to the CDC, the dose was lowered because Americans now receive fluoride from a variety of sources other than just water, and the dental benefits can be achieved with a lower dose in water. 

“MWRA has been adding fluoride to the water for more than 30 years to reduce tooth decay and promote community public health,” said Fred Laskey, MWRA’s executive director. “Like most other water suppliers, we follow the recommendations of the CDC, as well as the World Health Organization and the American Dental Association. These are the public health experts and we look to them for guidance on this important issue.”

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Updated August 20, 2019

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