e-Digest Statistics about: Inland Water Quality and Use

Fluoridation of water supplies

Fluoridation of drinking water supplies began in the early 1960s following the successful completion of trials which showed an improvement in the condition of the teeth of young children. Under the Water Industry Act 1991 the law previously allowed water companies to carry out fluoridation when requested to do so by Health Authorities, but they were not obliged to agree to a request. This was changed by the introduction of the Water Act 2003. Section 58 of the Water Act 2003 amended the legislation so that water companies now have to fluoridate drinking water supplies if asked to do so by a Strategic Health Authority (SHA). Before any new fluoridation scheme can be put in place the SHA must complete a local consultation process and provide the water company with an indemnity against costs . Note: For water supplies in Wales the decision on whether or not to fluoridate would be taken by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Water companies that fluoridate are required to ensure that the concentration of fluoride in the water supplied is, so far as is reasonably practicable, maintained at 1.0 mg/l. At present, only around 10% of the UK’s population drinks fluoridated water. The maximum concentration of fluoride allowed in water supplies under the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2000 (2001 in Wales) is 1.5mg/l.

The Drinking Water Inspectorate have produced a map showing average fluoride levels in the UK for 2004-2006 as a PDF file or direct from http://www.dwi.gov.uk/consumers/advice-leaflets/fluoridemap.pdf

In some complex water distribution systems the boundaries of the areas receiving a particular water supply can change. Also, fluoridation may have been suspended temporarily at a few treatment works to enable equipment to be renovated or replaced. Information on the fluoride concentration of the water supply to a particular location can be obtained from the appropriate water company.

In Detail:
Drinking water
Further Information:
Key Facts:
Drinking water quality
Internet Links:
For national and local information see:
England and Wales: Environment Agency
Scotland: Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Northern Ireland: Environment and Heritage Service
Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland

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Page last modified: 20 June 2007
Page published: 7 December 2004