Tea Drinking a Significant Source of Fluoride Intake, Ireland

Waugh DT, Potter W, Limeback H, Godfrey M. Risk Assessment of Fluoride Intake from Tea in the Republic of Ireland and its Implications for Public Health and Water Fluoridation. International journal of environmental research and public health. 2016 Feb 26;13(3). pii: E259. doi: 10.3390/ijerph13030259.

The Republic of Ireland (RoI) is the only European Country with a mandatory national legislation requiring artificial fluoridation of drinking water and has the highest per capita consumption of black tea in the world. Tea is a hyperaccumulator of fluoride and chronic fluoride intake is associated with multiple negative health outcomes. In this study, fifty four brands of the commercially available black tea bag products were purchased and the fluoride level in tea infusions tested by an ion-selective electrode method. The fluoride content in all brands tested ranged from 1.6 to 6.1 mg/L, with a mean value of 3.3 mg/L. According to our risk assessment it is evident that the general population in the RoI is at a high risk of chronic fluoride exposure and associated adverse health effects based on established reference values. We conclude that the culture of habitual tea drinking in the RoI indicates that the total cumulative dietary fluoride intake in the general population could readily exceed the levels known to cause chronic fluoride intoxication. Evidence suggests that excessive fluoride intake may be contributing to a wide range of adverse health effects. Therefore from a public health perspective, it would seem prudent and sensible that risk reduction measures be implemented to reduce the total body burden of fluoride in the population.

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