Objectives: Contemporary research, surveillance and monitoring of water fluoridation requires an understanding of the population coverage of this intervention. The aims of this research are to create the first publicly available record of water fluoride concentrations in England and to describe and visualise the observed variation in water fluoride concentrations and optimal fluoridation (⟩/= 0.7 mg F/L) between 2009-2020.
Basic research design: Routine water quality sampling data were requested from water companies in England from 2009-2020 under the provisions of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. Fluoride concentrations of Water Supply Zones (WSZs) were assigned to Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) using population-weighted centroids.
Results: Between 2009-2020 4247 LSOAs (12.9%) had an annual mean water fluoride concentration of ⟩/= 0.7 mg F/L in at least one year, and 3019 LSOAs (9.1%) had a grand mean fluoride concentration of ⟩/= 0.7 mg F/L. Coverage of optimal fluoridation varied over time; from 10.9% of LSOAs in 2014 to 6.3% in 2016.
Discussion: This study confirms previous work identifying variability in the coverage and achieved concentrations of water fluoridation programmes. The current provision for accessing, collating and utilising these data are a barrier to essential monitoring, surveillance and research. An annually maintained and publicly accessible database of water fluoride concentrations is urgently required.
Keywords: Fluoridation; Oral health; public health; water quality.
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