Activists are battling in court to stop a powerful federal agency from fluoridating our water.
By Mark Anderson
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains that fluoride prevents cavities, a long-cited but widely disproven “benefit” of this hazardous waste byproduct of aluminum and fertilizer production. Thus, the agency concludes, adding the chemical to public water is wholly justified—despite thoroughly validated scientific research showing ingestion of the toxin poses significant health risks to humans.
A raging battle has arisen between proponents of the EPA position and critics working tirelessly to get fluoride out of our water supply.
The commonsense resolution to this battle is simply to stop adding fluoride to the public water supply and let those who believe it prevents cavities purchase bottled water containing fluoride. As is so often the case, however, in the United States we have it backwards: We must buy bottled water in order to avoid the fluoride that’s dumped into many public water supplies.
This conundrum has now forced the matter into the legal arena, and the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) is keeping up the fight in an effort to change the system for the better.
In 2016, FAN and its coalition partners “filed a petition asking the EPA to ban the deliberate addition of fluoridating chemicals to U.S. drinking water under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA),” according to an Oct. 22 article by Dr. Joseph Mercola at the “Organic Consumers” website.
“The EPA dismissed FAN’s petition, prompting the consumer advocacy group and partners to file a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s denial. Since then, a number of victories have occurred that are moving us closer to the goal of getting fluoride out of U.S. drinking water,” the upbeat report explains.
The most recent victory came when the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California rejected an EPA request to delay the lawsuit’s Feb. 3, 2020 trial date. The FAN report notes: “Not only does the victory keep the EPA from increasing the cost of the lawsuit by adding more evidence to examine and another expert witness to depose at the last minute, it also adds to the momentum our legal team has gained from four previous legal victories.”
The other four victories began in December 2017, when a court denied the EPA’s initial motion to dismiss the case. Just weeks later, the second victory was announced. FAN Campaign Director Stuart Cooper wrote: “On Feb. 7, 2018, we won [this second] major legal victory. This time . . . EPA worked to prohibit our attorneys from obtaining internal EPA documents, and to prohibit our experts from relying upon recently published studies. . . . Had the EPA prevailed, we would have been prohibited from including any new fluoride neurotoxicity study published after our petition was submitted in Nov. 2016, including the landmark U.S. government-funded 12-year study by Bashash et al. published in September 2017. This study is critical in demonstrating that fluoride is neurotoxic and has no place in the public water supply.”
That study also showed that higher in-utero exposure to fluoride is associated with lower scores on cognitive-function tests in childhood. “While the children’s fluoride levels at ages 4 and 6-to-12 were not associated with their intelligence, the study found that exposure that occurs prenatally was linked to lower intelligence scores [later]. In fact, women with higher levels of fluoride in their urine during pregnancy were more likely to have children with lower intelligence,” Cooper noted.
In October 2018, the court ruled against the EPA a third time, ordering the agency to share its internal information on fluoride safety standards: “The EPA’s documents and correspondence relating to the specified studies are relevant to the ultimate issue the Court must decide—whether the ingestion of fluoride in drinking water causes neurotoxic harm,” the court stated.
The fourth victory occurred in April 2019, when the court ordered the EPA to produce additional documents and scientists for deposition. Now, with the fifth victory denying the EPA’s request to delay the trial for 65 days, the lawsuit is scheduled to begin as originally scheduled, on Feb. 3, 2020.
Notably, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2014, 66.3% of the U.S. population received fluoridated water. In comparison, 97% of western Europe’s population drinks non-fluoridated water.
“Despite not fluoridating its water, tooth decay rates in these western European countries are no higher than in the few Western countries (e.g., the United States) that fluoridate their water, reports FAN. “This raises serious questions about the CDC’s assertion that the decline of tooth decay in the United States since the 1950s is largely attributable to the advent of water fluoridation.”
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Email him at [email protected].