At Thursday’s status hearing for our federal lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the neurotoxicity of fluoridation chemicals, the Judge acknowledged that “justice delayed is justice denied,” ultimately ruling against the EPA’s request for additional delay of the trial. The Court also set a timeline for the final phase leading up to a verdict.
In a public display of the EPA’s callousness towards the millions of children in the US currently at risk of neurotoxic harm from fluoridation, their lawyers asked the Court to suspend the trial a second time by putting it back in abeyance for at least 6 more months. When the Judge asked if the EPA would want additional delays after 6 months, their lawyers were unwilling to make any promises, saying that they wanted to wait for the publication of the National Toxicology Program’s state of the science review and meta-analysis on fluoride neurotoxicity; a process that could take over a year or may never actually happen.
It ought to concern every parent, grandparent, and future parent that after already two years of delay awaiting the publication of the NTP review, the EPA continues to ask for delay upon delay upon delay.
FAN’s attorney, Michael Connett, explained to the Court that the Director of the NTP admitted in his declaration that the government’s review on fluoride’s harm to the developing brain may never be made public, despite 7 years of work by NTP’s scientists and an unprecedented number of peer-reviews. Emails obtained using a Freedom of Information Act Request by FAN’s lawyers also showed that even if the NTP Director chose to publish the review, leadership at US Health and Human Services (HHS) could continue to block it from being released to the public.
Because of a motion that FAN filed and won in October, the Court and Plaintiffs now have the final NTP review that was intended to be published on May 18th, 2022 before political pressure from the CDC, NIDCR, and HHS led to it being suppressed. This completed document is already the most peer-reviewed and scientifically scrutinized NTP report in history, and ought to be more than adequate for the Court to proceed with the trial. However, this completed report is currently under protective court order, and can only be viewed by the Court, the Plaintiffs, the Defendants, and their experts.
Attorney Connett shared FAN’s position that we want the Court to make the final NTP review from May 2022 available to the public, as well as the communications and criticisms from the CDC and HHS that led to it being blocked. Conversely, the EPA wants the report kept under protective order, and argued that the communications from HHS leadership should never be made public. Connett pointed out that FAN has evidence obtained through FOIA requests showing that the American Dental Association was already given the NTP review so they could work to discredit it, and therefore there is no justifiable reason for the EPA to continue hiding it from the public.
Also in contrast to the EPA, Connett asked the Court to allow for the start of depositions and discovery immediately and schedule a second phase of the trial for early summer so a decision could be made as soon as possible. The Judge indicated that there was presently a Court backlog that would cause scheduling conflicts for June through August, but he set the next hearing date for April 11th. The Court indicated that it would rule on allowing public access to the NTP final report either before or at the April hearing, as well as schedule the last phase of the trial, likely for late summer/early Fall of this year.
As one FAN Board Member summed it up:
- We want transparency. The EPA wants secrecy.
- We want a decision as soon as possible. The EPA wants delays.
- We want the decision based on science. The EPA sides with pro-fluoridation government authority figures who ignore, attack and twist the science and if necessary, do everything in their power to ensure the NTP report and meta-analysis never see the light of day.
Overall, we were pleased with the outcome of today’s hearing, because it keeps the process moving steadily forward.
Fluoride Action Network