(CNSNews.com) – A group called the Fluoride Action Network is urging Congress to stop the long-time practice of putting fluoride in the nation’s drinking water. It is urging lawmakers to hold hearings on the subject.

The Fluoride Action Network, which claims to represent over 600 “professionals,” cites “new scientific evidence that fluoridation, long promoted to fight tooth decay, is ineffective and has serious health risks.”

The group points to eight recent events that make a ban on water fluoridation “urgent.” Those events include a 2006 publication on fluoride’s toxicology, produced by a panel appointed by the National Research Council of the National Academies.

But according to the American Dental Association, which endorses the fluoridation of community water supplies, the National Research Council report only addressed the levels of naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water that exceed the EPA’s current recommendations.

“The report in no way examines or calls into question the safety of community water fluoridation, which is the process of adding fluoride to public water supplies to reach an optimal level of 0.7-1.2 parts per million in order to protect people against tooth decay,” the ADA says on its website.

Fluoride critics also point to research showing a possible link between fluoride and bone cancer — and other research showing that some children have tooth enamel problems (discoloration, mottling) associated with too much fluoride.

Even the American Dental Association has recommended that fluoridated water not be used in baby formula, the Fluoride Action Network said. (That’s because infants need less fluoride than everyone else because of their size, the American Dental Association said.)

The Fluoride Action Network wants Congress to hold hearings, “so that those in government agencies who continue to support the [fluoridation]…be compelled to provide the scientific basis for their ongoing promotion of fluoridation. They must be cross-examined under oath if the public is ever to fully learn the truth about this outdated and harmful practice.”

Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said, “It is time for the U.S. to recognize that fluoridation has serious risks that far outweigh any minor benefits, and unlike many other environmental issues, it’s as easy to end as turning off a valve at the water plant.”

The American Dental Association says the use of fluoridated drinking water has reduced tooth decay dramatically in this country.

Fluoride occurs naturally in all water sources, including oceans, lakes and underground water sources, the ADA says on its website. “Extensive research has shown that optimal levels of fluoride not only reduce cavities in children and adults, it also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay is visible.”

The ADA, in addressing questions about fluoride safety, quotes former Surgeon General Richard Carmona as saying that “Flouride is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health over a lifetime, for both children and adults.”

The North County (San Diego) Times reported last week that the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District plans to start adding fluoride to Southern California’s water supplies in October.