EPA Challenged in Court Over Fluoride Concerns

A 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that there is “a consistent pattern of findings that high fluoride exposure is associated with decreased intelligence quotient (IQ) in children.” More recently, in February of 2023, scientists from Toronto’s York University published a study in Science of the Total Environment that linked fluoride exposure with an increased risk of hypothyroidism in pregnant women. Fluoride is not without its risks to public health – and now the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is being sued over the issue.

EPA versus the Fluoride Action Network

The EPA has dragged out a lawsuit from the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), a group that wants the U.S. to end the practice of adding fluoride to public drinking water. Their stance is that the health risks of fluoride outweigh the benefits for dental health.

FAN began their lawsuit in 2017 after a petition filed in November of the previous year called on the EPA to “protect the public and susceptible subpopulations from the neurotoxic risks of fluoride by banning the addition of fluoridation chemicals to water.” In February 2017, EPA responded to this petition, claiming it failed to “set forth a scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any persons have suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride.”

Latest Developments

A judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California rejected the EPA’s request for a six-month trial delay. Released CDC emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assistant health secretary and the National Institute of Health’s director intervened to stop the release of a recent study on fluoride’s toxicity by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). The California judge then lifted a stay on the protective order that has prevented the release of the study – in February of 2023, the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences agreed to post the NTP toxicity study on the NTP website on or before March 15.

What happens next? We will have to wait and see. The next scheduled court hearing is scheduled for April of 2023.

To learn more about FAN’s lawsuit, find all court documents relating to the trial here.

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