Comparison of Fluoride Levels in Tap and Bottled Water in a US-Mexico Border Community
Kerton Victory1, Daniela Larson1, Nolan Cabrera2, Kelly Reynolds1, Paloma Beamer1
1Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, 2College of Education
University of Arizona
Consumption of bottled water in the United States has been increasing steadily over the past decade. Previous studies have shown that consumers prefer the taste and convenience of alternative water sources relative to tap water. The American Dental Association (ADA) endorses fluoridation of community water supplies to prevent tooth decay and is concerned that individuals who drink primarily bottled water may not receive adequate levels of fluoride. In this study, we enrolled thirty low income households and assessed fluoride levels in both tap and bottled drinking water sources. We found that fluoride detection was significantly greater (p=0.02) in tap water when compared to alternative drinking water. The average level of fluoride in tap water was 0.7 mg/L, which is within the range of ADA accepted standards for optimally fluoridated water (0.7- 1.2 mg/L) and below the Environmental Protection Agency secondary maximum contaminant level (2.0 mg/L).Concentration of fluoride in all bottled water samples was below the quantitative detection limit of 0.4 mg/L suggesting that those who primarily drink bottled water may be consuming far less fluoride than those who drink tap water. Though all study participants reported using toothpaste with fluoride, no household reported using systemic fluoride supplements, suggesting that they may be at increased risk of developing dental cavities and other oral diseases. Based on these findings, there needs to be an intervention regarding drinking water and fluoride supplementation so that these families may not need to use their limited resources on bottled water while protecting their oral hygiene.