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 in soil. 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 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: mg/L is an abbreviation for milligrams per Liter. 1.0 mg/L = 1 milligrams per Liter.)

Vancouver’s water is fluoridated using sodium fluoride to levels between 0.5 mg/L to 0.9 mg/L, 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 our drinking water can be found in Vancouver’s annual Water Quality Report. All customers in the City’s service area are notified of this report on an annual basis. The report is made available on the annual water quality report section of the city’s drinking water website, 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).