Opponents of Arkansas water fluoridation failed to remove the state mandate and must now wait another two years until the legislature is in session. But a lawsuit was recently filed in federal court in California by the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and other groups to get fluoride out of drinking water all across the country.
“This may be the lawsuit we have all been waiting decades for,” FAN said in an April 25 press release.
“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,” said FAN attorney Michael Connett. “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 Environmental Protection Agency’s judgment.”
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, against the EPA in response to its denial of FAN’s petition under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act seeking a ban on water fluoridation.
Connett said many independent scientists now recognize that fluoride is a neurotoxin.
“The question, therefore, is not if fluoride damages the brain, but at what dose,” he said. “We presented the EPA 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 EPA 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.”
In denying FAN’s initial petition, the EPA claimed that the petitioner failed to set forth a scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any people have suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride added to drinking water in the United States. Connett said that was despite the EPA being presented with more than 180 studies showing that fluoride causes neurotoxic harm (e.g. reduced IQ), and he 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,” Connett said. “But, unfortunately, the EPA has consistently shied away from applying the normal rules of risk assessment to fluoride.”
“I just can’t even believe that we still have fluoridation chemicals deliberately added to our drinking water,” said Darlene Schrum, who has opposed fluoridation in Eureka Springs for nearly 30 years. “There is nothing about it that makes any sense. When you read about it, what is added to our drinking water has always been an industrial waste product – not pharmaceutical grade fluoride. The fluoride chemicals contain harmful byproducts like lead and aluminum, and the chemicals are so acidic that they corrode our water pipes. That can release additional lead into drinking from water pipes that contain lead solder, while also causing the need for expensive pipe repair and replacement. We don’t need fluoride. But clean drinking water is essential to life.”
Jeannie Burlsworth, director of Secure Arkansas, which has led efforts to overturn the fluoride mandate, said they are hopeful the FAN lawsuit will be successful. “It definitely gives the public cause to stop and think about the consequences of adding fluoridation chemicals to drinking water, as well as the health department officials who put the mandate on us to begin with,” she said. “I feel our state representatives didn’t understand the harm that fluoride causes when they voted for the mandate in 2011.”
Two water districts in Arkansas have refused to fluoridate, and are involved in lawsuits with the Arkansas Department of Health. The Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority and the Madison County Regional Water District have opposed fluoridation based on concerns not just about human health effects, but that fluoridation chemicals are so corrosive they can reduce the life of the water delivery system by 40 percent while increasing lead leaching from old pipes.
“All of these lawsuits add up,” Burlsworth said. “It just proves to me you can go at this more than one way with a lawsuit. Any which way you turn it, wrong is wrong, and harmful is harmful.”
Dr. Sandra Young, a Secure Arkansas consultant who has lobbied to remove the fluoride mandate, said it is frustrating the Arkansas Department of Health and state legislators have not read, or have discounted, scientific studies showing harm from fluoridation chemicals. She lauded FAN’s lawsuit as hope for finally allowing science to prevail.
“This will allow the courts to look at the science independently and not be influenced by politics,” Young said. “People can access the studies that FAN used in their petition to the EPA to educate themselves. I feel that eventually we will prevail.”
Fluoride does not normally occur in our bodies.
“It is harmful,” Young said. “It is the most active of all elements, never occurring alone, but always combined with another element. It causes diseases that use up most of our health-care dollars. Fluoride increases the rate of cancer. In point of fact, fluorine causes more human cancer death, and causes it faster, than any other chemical, according to Dean Burk, Ph.D. former head of the National Cancer Institute’s cytochemistry section, chief chemist emeritus at the U.S. National Institute.”
Young said fluoride has been epidemiologically associated with both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The U.S. has the second highest death rate from Alzheimer’s out of 172 countries, and Americans consume more fluoridation chemicals than the rest of the world combined, according to FAN. The U.S. ranks fourth out of 172 countries for rates of death from Parkinson’s disease.