Fluoride Contamination in Tampa Bay Drinking Water
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is commonly added to public drinking water supplies in the appropriate amount to help prevent tooth decay. However, too much fluoride can pose health risks. This article will examine the potential for fluoride contamination in drinking water sources around Tampa Bay, Florida.
Presence of Fluoride in Drinking Water
Fluoride occurs naturally in some groundwater sources due to the breakdown of rocks containing fluoride minerals. In Florida, fluoride levels tend to be higher in groundwater tapped by public supply wells drilled into the Floridan Aquifer System, which underlies the entire state.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a maximum contaminant level of 4 milligrams per liter (mg/L) for fluoride in public drinking water supplies. This level was set to provide dental health benefits while avoiding potential issues from excessive exposure.
Fluoride is also added to many municipal water systems that draw from surface water supplies like rivers and lakes, which tend to contain little natural fluoride. This adjusted fluoridation is carefully controlled to boost fluoride to optimal levels of around 0.7 mg/L.
Health Concerns of Excessive Fluoride
Consuming water with more than 4 mg/L of fluoride over many years can lead to a condition called skeletal fluorosis. This results in joint pain and brittle bones due to fluoride buildup in the bones.
Fluoride above 2 mg/L may also increase risk of developing methemoglobinemia, or blue baby syndrome, in infants. This blood disorder limits the oxygen-carrying capacity of hemoglobin.
High fluoride exposure may produce cosmetic effects like dental fluorosis, which can damage the enamel of developing teeth. This appears as discolored spots or streaks.
Fluoride Levels in Tampa Bay Area Water Supplies
While fluoride is regulated and adjusted to optimal levels in most municipal drinking water, private wells tapping groundwater may have naturally high fluoride. Areas at higher risk for excessive fluoride include:
Sun City Center
The most effective way to determine if fluoride is at concerning levels in your home's water is to have the supply tested by a certified lab.
Water Treatment Solutions for Fluoride
If fluoride testing reveals your water supply contains levels approaching or exceeding the EPA's maximum of 4 mg/L, a reverse osmosis system is the most reliable treatment method. Reverse osmosis forces water through a membrane that filters out fluoride along with other contaminants, producing clean drinking and cooking water.
For example, the AquaRevive Reverse Osmosis System from Aqua-Wise Water Treatment Solutions removes up to 99% of fluoride and total dissolved solids. Their systems also incorporate filtration stages to handle other problematic contaminants like chlorine, heavy metals, bacteria, and more.
Whole house systems that use activated alumina can reduce moderate fluoride levels of 2-4 mg/L down to EPA-recommended levels. The AquaBlue Whole House Filter System by Aqua-Wise utilizes activated alumina with support filtration to condition all water entering the home.
For extremely high fluoride levels above 6-8 mg/L, a specialty resin ion exchange system may be required to bring levels down to safer drinking water standards. The professionals at Aqua-Wise can determine the right treatment approach during a site analysis.
Have Your Water Tested for Fluoride
Don't risk excessive and harmful fluoride exposure. Tap water should be tested every 3-5 years to check for elevated levels, especially if sourced from a private well. Aqua-Wise offers free water testing to assess your water for concerning levels of fluoride and other contaminants.
Proper water treatment installation can protect your home against unsafe levels of naturally occurring fluoride in your water supply. Investing in clean, conditioned water delivers health benefits and peace of mind.
EPA on Fluoride in Drinking Water: https://www.epa.gov/dwstandardsregulations/fluoride-drinking-water-health-advisory-and-regulatory-information
CDC on Fluoridation of Drinking Water: https://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/index.html
Florida Department of Health on Fluoridation: http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/community-health/dental-health/fluoridation/index.html