Fluoride ions in water are identical, whether naturally occuring or added as part of a fluoridation process
The laws of chemistry dictate that fluoride ions in water are identical whether they occur naturally in the water or are added. In laboratory analysis, the fluoride ions would be indistinguishable from one another, regardless of their origins.
Fluoride occurs naturally in all water supplies, having been dissolved out of the rocks and soils over which the water has travelled.
Artificial water fluoridation - sometimes known as 'community water fluoridation' - is the process of adjusting the naturally occurring fluoride in water supplies where it is deficient and raising it to the optimal level for oral health.
One in a Million
Our One in a Million online database includes a comprehensive section on the technical and scientific aspects of water fluoridation.
Water research centre review of chemistry of fluoride in water
In 2002 experts at Water Research Centre (WRc-NSF) were asked by the British Fluoridation Society to provide an independent expert review of the chemistry and uptake (bioavailability) of fluoride in drinking water. They concluded that:
In terms of chemistry and bioavailability (the human body's uptake), there is no difference between naturally occurring and added fluoride in water.
The effect of water hardness on the uptake of fluoride is very small.
Fluoridation does not affect the bioavailability of lead, iron or copper in water.
Fluoridation has a negligible impact on the corrosiveness of water in the distribution system.
The traces of impurities added as a result of fluoridation are very small (amounting generally to less than 1% of the maximum permitted levels under European and UK water quality regulations) and have no measurable impact on the toxicity of drinking water.
Studies of interest
Bioavailability of fluoride (University of Newcastle team, 2004)
A study commissioned by the UK Department of Health from researchers at the University of Newcastle found no statistically significant difference between the bioavailability of fluoride ingested from artificially fluoridated water and fluoride ingested from naturally fluoridated water.
Very strict European and UK regulations govern what can be added to public water supplies. Only two compounds of fluoride are permitted for artificial fluoridation in the UK. These compounds are included on the Drinking Water Inspectorate's list of approved substances. They achieve the desired concentration of fluoride (1 part per million) reliably and safely, and must meet Department of Environment purity specifications. In Europe the permitted upper limit for fluoride in drinking water is 1.5 ppm.(based on WHO guidelines). The target level for water fluoridation schemes in the UK is 1 ppm.