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Drinking Water Safety

High levels of fluoride in drinking water

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​All sources of water have a natural amount of fluoride. The right amount of fluoride in drinking water helps protect against tooth decay. Drinking water includes all water used to drink or prepare drinks (including infant formula) and the water we use for cooking.​​

What is the standard for levels of fluoride in drinking water?

For good dental health, Health Canada recommends that drinking water has 0.7 mg/L (milligrams per litre) of fluoride. However, drinking water with too much fluoride can affect your health.

There are guidelines that set the highest level of fluoride in water that is safe for us to drink. This is called the maximum recommended level. These guidelines help protect us against possible health effects caused by too much fluoride.

  • The Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality maximum recommended level for fluoride is 1.5 mg/L. Fluoride levels higher than 1.5 mg/L may cause white spots to form on tooth enamel (called dental fluorosis) in children up to the age of 8.
  • The Alberta Health Drinking Water Guideline maximum recommended level for fluoride is 2.4 mg/L. Fluoride levels of 2.5 mg/L or higher may increase the risk of skeletal fluorosis (a condition that causes bones to break easily and causes calcium to build up in ligaments and tendons).

Depending on your age, it may be safe to drink water that has fluoride levels higher than the maximum recommended level.

Anyone can use water with fluoride levels above 1.5 mg/L for washing dishes, laundry, handwashing, and bathing since fluoride can’t get through your skin.

What should I do if there are high levels of fluoride in my drinking water?

Drinking water that comes from a well may have fluoride levels that are too high. Depending on who is using the water, if your drinking water has more than 1.5 mg/L of fluoride, you may need to take steps to protect your health. Learn more about testing your drinking water in Alberta.

Level of fluoride in drinking water For children 8 years old and younger​​ For people 9 years old and older
Lower than 1.5 mg/LNo action neededNo action needed
Betwe​en 1.5 mg/L and 2.4 mg/L
  • Use drinking water from another source.
  • ​Lower the l​evel of fluoride in your water to 1.5 mg/L or less.
No action needed
More than 2.4 mg/L
  • Use drinking water from another source.
  • Lower the level of fluoride in your water to 1.5 mg/L or less.
  • Use drinking water from another source.
  • Lower the level of fluoride in your water to 1.5 mg/L or less.

If your drinking water has too much fluoride, use drinking water from another source such as treated public water or bottled water. These water sources have fluoride levels of 1.5 mg/L or less.

You can lower the level of fluoride in your drinking water supply with:

  • reverse osmosis (forcing water through a membrane that filters out minerals like fluoride)
  • distillation (a system that boils water, catches the steam, and condenses it to liquid while leaving the fluoride out)

Choose equipment that is certified by NSF or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Follow the manufacturer’s directions. Don’t use pour-through or pitcher-type filters as they don’t remove fluoride.

You can also combine your water supply with water from another source to lower the level of fluoride in your drinking water.

Where can I learn more?

For more information and help to lower the level of fluoride in your drinking water, contact Alberta Health Services Environmental Public Health.

Current as of: April 22, 2022

Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services