It’s official: the Fluoride Action Network–along with a coalition of environmental and public health groups–has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to their denial of our petition under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) seeking a ban on water fluoridation. This may be the lawsuit we have all been waiting decades for.
According to FAN’s attorney, Michael Connett, “this case will present the first time a court will consider the neurotoxicity of fluoride and the question of whether fluoridation presents an unreasonable risk under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). And, in contrast to most other legal challenges of Agency actions, TSCA gives us the right to get the federal court to consider our evidence ‘de novo’—meaning federal courts are to conduct their own independent review of the evidence without deference to the EPA’s judgment.”
Industry, legal, and environmental observers following the EPA’s implementation of the new TSCA law have pointed out that a lawsuitchallenging the EPA’s denial of our petition would provide a test case for the agency’s interpretation that petitioners must provide a comprehensive analysis of all uses of a chemical in order to seek a restriction on a particular use. Legal experts have suggested that the EPA’s interpretation essentially makes the requirements for gaining Agency action using section 21 petitions impossible to meet.
On Nov 22, 2016, a coalition including FAN, Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, Moms Against Fluoridation, and several individual mothers, filed a petition calling on the EPA to ban the deliberate addition of fluoridating chemicals to the drinking water under provisions in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The full TSCA petition can be accessed here, a shorter 8-page summary here, and our press release here.
We presented the Agency with a large body of human and animal evidence demonstrating that fluoride is a neurotoxin at levels now ingested by many U.S. children and vulnerable populations. We also presented the Agency with evidence showing that fluoride has little benefit when swallowed, and, accordingly, any risks from exposing people to fluoride chemicals in water are unnecessary. We believe that an impartial judge reviewing this evidence will agree that fluoridation poses an unreasonable risk.
On February 27th, the EPA published their response. In their decision the EPA claimed, “Thepetition has not set forth a scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any persons have suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride in the U.S. through the purposeful addition of fluoridation chemicals to drinking water or otherwise from fluoride exposure in the U.S.” As many independent scientists now recognize, fluoride is a neurotoxin. The question, therefore, is not if fluoride damages the brain, but at what dose. While EPA quibbles with the methodology of some of these studies, to dismiss and ignore these studies in their entirety for methodological imperfections is exceptionally cavalier, particularly given the consistency of the findings and the razor-thin margin between the doses causing harm in these studies and the doses that millions of Americans now receive. EPA’s own Guidelines on Neurotoxicity Risk Assessment highlight the importance of having a robust margin between the doses of a chemical that cause neurotoxic effects and the doses that humans receive. We presented the EPA with over 180 studies showing that fluoride causes neurotoxic harm (e.g. reduced IQ), and pointed out that many of these studies found harm at levels within the range, or precariously close to, the levels millions of U.S. children now receive. Typically, this would be a cause for major concern. But, unfortunately, the EPA has consistently shied away from applying the normal rules of risk assessment to fluoride — and it has unfortunately continued that tradition with its dismissal of the Petition. Fortunately, the TSCA statute provides that citizens can challenge an EPA denial in federal court. For too long, EPA has let politics trump science on the fluoride issue (see examples). We welcome therefore having these issues considered by a federal court.
Winning this lawsuit will require a full team effort, and we want you to feel a part of that team and a part of this moment in history. Please consider playing a larger role in this potentially fluoridation-ending lawsuit by making a tax-deductible contribution. See below for details about making donations and about our “thank you” gift for supporters.