The Farm Bill that the House passed today and the Senate will vote on contains a provision that overrides a ruling by EPA that the toxic fumigant sulfuryl fluoride leaves unsafe levels of fluoride on food, reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).
The aggregate dose that children receive from these residues along with the fluoride from other sources, including fluoridated water and dental products, exceeds EPA’s safe reference dose for fluoride – especially in the case of infants and children – and thus the new source is not permitted under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). With this Farm Bill provision, EPA will no longer be allowed to assess the total risk from fluoride exposure.
In 2011, after eight years of deliberation, EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs upheld objections by the Environmental Working Group, Beyond Pesticides and FAN about the use of sulfuryl fluoride on food and announced a phase-out of its use.
Now, Dow lobbyists working with a compliant Congress have slipped a provision into the Farm Bill that excludes non-pesticide sources in the aggregate calculations for sulfuryl fluoride. This not only undermines the credibility of the EPA Pesticide division but also delivers a critical blow to the FQPA, which among other things was designed to provide stronger protections for infants and children from pesticides.
“Only the U.S. and Australia apply this fumigant directly to food. The rest of the world has shown that sulfuryl fluoride is not necessary for the safe storage and handling of our food supply, given the availability of other methods – including temperature manipulation (heating and cooling), atmospheric controls (low oxygen and fumigation with carbon dioxide), biological controls (pheromones), and less toxic chemical controls (diatomaceous earth), all successfully used in organic production,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.
Before 2004 the allowed tolerances for fluoride on certain foodstuffs was set at 7 ppm. The tolerances that will come into play if the EPA ruling to phase out sulfuryl fluoride is bypassed will allow a massive increase. This would include 70 ppm fluoride in more than 99% of all processed foods, 125 ppm in wheat flour (which goes into cookies, cakes, bread and pizza) and a staggering 900 ppm in powdered eggs. 900 ppm is just a tad below the level found in toothpaste (1000 ppm), which comes with an FDA-mandated poison warning that instructs users not to swallow. One third of the eggs sold in the U.S. come in powdered form.
According to Professor Paul Connett, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Fluoride Action Network, “Our kids are already getting far too much fluoride as evidenced by the fact that 41% of American adolescents have some form of dental fluorosis a tell-tale sign that they have experienced the early signs of fluoride poisoning.”
Making matters even worse is a recent meta-analysis by Harvard scientists that reported that 26 of 27 studies investigating the relationship between IQ and elevated fluoride in water have found a reduction of IQ, with an average drop of 7 IQ points. The lowest level at which this occurred was 1.8 ppm, but the level was even lower (0.88 ppm) when combined with deficient iodine intake. According to Dr. Connett, “These findings offer no adequate margin of safety to protect all our children from impaired intellectual development from the combined exposure to sulfuryl fluoride residues and other sources of fluoride. The idea that we are taking these risks to satisfy Dow’s thirst for profit is both intolerable socially, and highly shortsighted from an economic perspective.”
“We are shocked that Congress seems set to allow this underhand undermining of the laws designed to protect our children’s health. As far as our children’s brains are concerned it makes little difference whether the fluoride ion comes from a sulfuryl fluoride molecule or a glass of fluoridated water. It is the total dose that causes harm,” Connett notes.
Connett says, “With Dow jacking up the exposure our kids are getting to fluoride it is more important than ever that we stop the unnecessary, outdated and reckless practice of deliberately adding fluoride to the public drinking water. Meanwhile, Dow has given us yet another reason to buy organic food whenever we can.”