Fluoride compounds are salts that form when the element, fluorine, combines with minerals in soil or rocks. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some fluoride compounds, such as sodium fluoride and fluorosilicates, dissolve easily into groundwater as it moves through gaps and pore spaces between rocks. Most water supplies contain some naturally occurring fluoride. Many communities add fluoride to their drinking water to promote dental health.
Fluoridation of the public water supply in the City of Vancouver’s water systems dates back to a City Council ordinance, adopted into code in late 1961. A citizens’ referendum vote in early 1962 supported that Council decision. In 2011, the Washington Supreme Court held that city council decisions on fluoridation are an administrative decision, and not subject to local referendum or initiative.
Since 1961, Vancouver’s water has been fluoridated in compliance with Vancouver Municipal Code, and all EPA and Department of Health guidelines.
EPA sets levels of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to periodically review the national primary drinking water regulations and revise them, if appropriate. States may set more stringent drinking water regulations for fluoride than EPA. The current enforceable EPA drinking water standard for fluoride is 4.0 mg/L, the maximum amount allowed in water from public water systems. (Note: 4.0 mg/L = 4 milligrams per Liter (mg/L) or 4 parts per million (ppm).) That is now under EPA review, and the most current guideline from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is 0.7 milligrams per liter.
In 2013, Vancouver’s water was fluoridated using sodium fluoride to 0.7-0.8 milligrams per liter, in keeping with EPA, HHS guidelines, Vancouver Municipal Code and local Public Health Department concerns about the need to help reduce dental disease. Information about fluoride in the water can be found in Vancouver’s annual Water Quality Report, which is annually sent to each address in the Utility’s water service area and posted on the city’s website at www.cityofvancouver.us/water as required by federal law.
For more information on fluoride in drinking water, we encourage you to visit the EPA website for information about fluoride. Additional information can be found on the websites for the Washington State Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Information about fluoride and dental health, along with resource links, can be found on the Clark County Public Health website.