ARLINGTON, Va., March 23 (AScribe Newswire) — The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) has issued a statement supporting the Healthy People 2020 goal to increase to 75 percent the number of Americans on optimally fluoridated public water supplies.

According to the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, fluoridation yields a significant return on investment. Every dollar spent on fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment. The U.S. Task Force on Community Preventive Services strongly recommends community water fluoridation be included as part of a comprehensive population-based strategy to prevent or control dental caries.

“Beyond the financial impact of dental disease, is the toll it takes on the health of people of this country, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Water fluoridation is safe and effective at preventing oral health issues that lead to pain as well as other serious health problems,” said Susan Cooper, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health and chair of ASTHO’s Prevention Policy Committee.

She added, “At present time, approximately one-third of Americans – 100 million people – are unable to benefit from optimally fluoridated water. Public health officials nationwide should partner to make this intervention available to the masses.”

“ASTHO believes it is critically important to ensure that the levels of fluoride in our community water supplies are safe, while still effectively combating dental caries,” said C. Earl Hunter, Commissioner, South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control and chair of ASTHO’s Environmental Public Health Policy Committee.

ASTHO recommends increasing the percentage of persons on public water supplies receiving optimally fluoridated water through:

– Fluoridation of community water systems at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – 0.7 – 1.2 ppm (mg/L).

– Proposing and supporting public policies and programs that advance community water fluoridation.

– Partnering with the dental care providers, medical providers, water works associations, and state drinking water administrators to increase the awareness of the benefits of fluoride.

– Providing science and research, and proven public health practice, to assure that efforts to prevent dental caries through water fluoridation remain based on accurate data and up-to-date scientific information.

ASTHO acknowledges the review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water standard for naturally occurring levels of fluoride in drinking water conducted by the National Academy of Sciences and encourages the EPA to undertake additional research, as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, to further assess the adequacy of protection afforded by the current MCL for naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water. ASTHO also encourages the EPA to perform these assessments in consideration of the possible health effects on a small child, rather than an average adult.

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CONTACT: Paula Steib, ASTHO Communications, 571-527-3173,

ABOUT ASTHO: The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials is the national nonprofit organization representing the state and territorial public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to assuring excellence in state-based public health practice.