Posts Tagged ‘drinking water’

Program Spotlight: Lab Licensure

January 24th, 2013

Those of you that actually read these posts know that we run Arizona’s benchmark public health laboratory.  But many of you might not know that we also license and inspect clinical and environmental labs in AZ and even some in other parts of the country through our Clinical and Environmental Laboratory Licensing and Compliance programs. 

Our Clinical Lab Certification is handled under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)- which is part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  Essentially, any testing performed on humans for the purposes of clinical treatment, medical diagnosis, health assessment or disease prevention outside of research laboratories, forensic laboratories and laboratories that test for employment purposes in AZ is regulated by our team.  So when you hear about a lab test being completed on someone that lab is regulated by CLIA. The ultimate goal is to provide a high quality reliably test result which the Physician can use in diagnosis and treatment of a patient. 

The Environmental Lab Licensure section ensures that scientific validity and defensibility are accomplished through the use of proper scientific testing methods.  One of the interesting categories of labs licensed (there are four categories, in all) is drinking water.  Each and every company that sells bottled drinking water in Arizona is subject to having their certifying lab evaluated and licensed by our team.  This requires that our inspection personnel travel to each of the labs both in and out of State to conduct mandated inspections.  Here’s the list of all four categories of labs that we regulate.

The Scoop on Fluoride

January 20th, 2011

This month the EPA and HHS proposed a change that would lower the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water.  A small amount of fluoride is good in drinking water because it prevents tooth decay.  The idea is to maximize the health benefits of water fluoridation by continuing to prevent tooth decay while reducing the possibility of too much fluoride exposure for children.  There are several reasons for the recent change, including new sources of fluoride, like toothpaste, mouth-rinses, prescription fluoride supplements and fluoride applied by health professionals.  Water fluoridation and fluoride toothpaste are largely responsible for the significant decline in tooth decay over the last few decades.

Water fluoridation is the single most cost-effective strategy that a community can take to improve the oral health of its residents.  Research shows that every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $38 in unnecessary costs for dental treatment.  The national average cost of filling one cavity – $145, is more than twice the cost of providing optimally fluoridated water to an individual for a lifetime!

Fluoride at some level is naturally present in water and food. In Arizona, it is not uncommon to have naturally occurring fluoride at 0.2 to 0.5 milligrams per liter of water (mg/L), so all Arizonans get some fluoride. Fluoridation of community drinking water is the adjustment of the existing natural fluoride concentration in drinking water to a level that prevents tooth decay.  Currently, ten Arizona communities (Bisbee, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Guadalupe, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Tempe and Yuma) fluoridate their water supply to the optimal level.

The long recognized benefits of community water fluoridation way outweigh any risk, the only known risk is mild enamel discoloration from too much fluoride (from multiple sources).  The discoloration has no clinical significance other than that the individual is more resistant to tooth decay.

We recommend that people brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, when you get up in the morning and before going to bed.  For little kids, we recommend monitoring the amount of fluoride during tooth brushing by supervising and discouraging swallowing toothpaste and teaching kids to only place a pea-size amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush.  You can read more about community water fluoridation on the CDC’s fluoride website and on EPA’s fluoride website.

A Federal Register notice describing the rationale for the proposed change is available for review.  Comments on the proposed change will be accepted for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, and can be sent to The final guidance for community water fluoridation is expected by spring 2011.