THE DALLAS EXPRESS, TEXAS: The health effects of fluoride are under judicial review in a rare bench trial that began last week in California that could see the mineral banned from the drinking water of approximately 200 million Americans.
A two-week bench trial is underway in San Francisco where federal judge Edward M. Chen is considering a lawsuit filed by Food & Water Watch (FWW) and several other environmentalist groups against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2017. The complaint aims to include a provision banning the addition of fluoride to the nation’s drinking water supply under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The landmark trial — which is a de novo review with no deference to prior rulings — will see Chen weighing expert opinions on the health benefits and risks of fluoridization. This judicial review of science is typically reserved for federal agencies. Yet the EPA dismissed a citizens’ petition to ban the practice of fluoridization submitted by FWW in 2016, which sparked the lawsuit.
Currently, the EPA allows drinking water to contain up to 4 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water. In contrast, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that 0.7 milligrams per liter be the standard.
Adding fluoride to drinking water has long been touted as a way to improve Americans’ dental health. The mineral has been shown to strengthen teeth and protect against tooth decay. However, in the past few years, the benefits of fluoridated tap water have been called into question. For instance, too much fluoride can weaken the bones.
More recently, studies have suggested that fluoride might play a role in obesity, a rampant public health issue in the United States, and may have neurotoxic effects on fetuses and children, leading to developmental issues or the increased prevalence of ADHD.
Speaking about his own research on the latter subject at the bench trial on February 2, Philippe Grandjean, a Harvard professor and Danish epidemiologist, argued that there was a definite causal relationship between fluoride exposure, neurotoxicity, and brain development.