Controversy over fluoride levels in drinking water in Massachusetts has made headlines in recent months as Cambridge, Gloucester, Newburyport, and other towns in Massachusetts relook at the decades-old practice of adding fluoride to public drinking water to reduce dental caries (cavities). Some of the controversy between scientists, dental professionals, anti-fluoride activists, town officials, and others in Massachusetts and across the U.S. might be reduced if the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) proposal for lowering fluoride levels in U.S. drinking water was finalized, according to a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researcher.

“I know that [the Department of] Health and Human Services in Washington has recommended that [U.S. communities] decrease the level of fluoride in water from 1.0 part per million to 0.7 parts per million. I think we ought to do that right away,” Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health, said on WBUR’s Radio Boston on February 5, 2015.

Close to 75% of the U.S. population receives drinking water containing 0.7-1.2 parts per million (ppm) fluoride to prevent tooth decay, levels that were based on recommendations from the federal government made more than four decades ago. The decision to add fluoride to a water supply is made by local or state governments.

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