Fluoride Action Network

Judge Codifies Key Rulings Ahead Of Landmark TSCA Trial On Fluoride

Source: Inside EPA | May 27th, 2020 | By Maria Hegstad


The federal judge overseeing the first-time trial next month on whether EPA must regulate water fluoridation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) has codified his earlier verbal rulings barring the agency from presenting evidence on the practice’s benefits while leaving the door open for EPA to argue that it could defer any regulation.

In a recent order that fills in several key procedural details ahead of the trial that is slated to begin June 8, Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California detailed in writing his recent verbal order barring EPA from presenting evidence at the trial on fluoride’s benefits.

Chen also detailed his decision allowing the agency to present evidence that any regulation could be delayed, but only if Chen were to rule for plaintiffs that drinking water fluoridation presents an unreasonable risk to health.

“Taking all of this together, the plain text of the statute, the structure of the statute, and its legislative history all indicate that consideration of benefits at the risk evaluation stage is inappropriate,” Chen concluded.

As a result, Chen granted plaintiffs’ motion to exclude testimony regarding the dental health benefits of fluoridating drinking water over EPA’s objections.

… Plaintiff’s attorney Michael Connett, with the firm Waters Kraus & Paul in Los Angeles, told Inside EPA in 2017 that plaintiffs saw benefit in bringing their case before a judge without a public health agency’s views on the controversial claims.

“It will be good to get the issue considered by people not entrenched in the issue,” he said. “EPA never really applied its own risk assessment procedures to fluoride. We believe if EPA does, then it will see . . . that fluoridation would be incompatible with the dose that would be appropriate.”

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