As they say, the wheels of justice turn slowly, which we’ve seen over the past several years with the TSCA water fluoridation lawsuit.
TSCA stands for the Toxic Substances Control Act. TSCA requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review both new and existing chemicals to determine if they pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. If a chemical is found to pose unreasonable risks, the EPA can limit or ban its use.
Back in 2016, a group of nonprofit organizations and individuals petitioned the EPA to end water fluoridation based on the risks that fluoridation chemicals pose to human health. The EPA rejected that petition, so the group sued the agency (Food and Water Watch, et al v. EPA). A 7-day trial was held in June 2020, but the court has yet to issue a ruling.
Now, a second phase of the trial is set to begin on January 31, 2024, with testimony expected from some of the world’s leading scientists. The judge is expected to rule on fluoridation shortly after the trial.
The plaintiffs base their case on fluoride’s neurotoxicity – its toxicity to the brain. The link between fluoride ingestion and brain damage has been demonstrated in dozens of studies, showing a relationship between higher levels of fluoride ingestion and significantly lower IQ in children. Evidence has also linked higher fluoride intake with higher rates of ADHD.
Edward Chen is the US district judge hearing the case in the Northern District of California in San Francisco.
Since June 2020, Judge Chen has waited for a systematic review on fluoride’s neurotoxicity to be completed by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). The final review was scheduled to be released on May 18, 2022, when it was blocked just days before publication by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Following a Jan. 12, 2023 hearing, the judge rejected EPA’s request for further delays. A draft version of the review was posted on NTP’s website March 15, 2023. We gave a quick overview on this blog shortly thereafter. Roughly two months later, the NTP’s Board of Scientific Counselors held a public meeting on the program’s responses to outside reviews of its review, but as of December 28, 2023, the final version had yet to be released.