The Fluoride Action Network (FAN) has been working tirelessly to end the addition of fluoridation chemicals to drinking water due to fluoride’s neurotoxicity. Now, thanks to the support of readers like you, a groundbreaking trial is underway, challenging the U.S. water fluoridation program.
The lawsuit, filed by FAN, Food and Water Watch, Moms Against Fluoridation and five individuals against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), began June 8, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. The suit has been years in the making.
In 2016, the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and coalition partners filed a petition asking the EPA to ban the deliberate addition of fluoridating chemicals to U.S. drinking water under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
Under the TSCA, the EPA evaluates risks from new and existing chemicals and is supposed to act to address any â€œunreasonable risksâ€� such chemicals may pose to human health and the environment.1
However, the EPA has maintained that because fluoride supposedly prevents cavities â€” a â€œbenefitâ€� thatâ€™s been disproven â€” it justifies adding the chemical to water, even though scientific research shows it poses significant risks.2
The EPA dismissed FANâ€™s petition, prompting the consumer advocacy group and partners to file a lawsuit challenging the EPAâ€™s denial. Although the EPA filed a motion to dismiss the case, the motion was denied by the court in 2017.3
EPAâ€™s â€˜Go-To Manâ€™ Provided Testimony on Fluorideâ€™s Toxicity
According to FAN, the lawsuit represents the first time in its 44-year history that a suit has progressed to trial under TSCA. Paul Connett, Ph.D., executive director of FAN, stated:4
â€œThis case may be groundbreaking for environmental legal cases and, at least as important, it is groundbreaking for the opposition to fluoridation. Opposition to fluoridation is now at least 70 years old, but for most of that time has been wrongly dismissed as a fringe and unscientific position.â€�
This may soon change, considering one of the neurotoxicity experts who testified during the trial was Dr. Bruce Lanphear, who was described in a news release as â€œthe EPA’s â€˜go-to-manâ€™ on lead’s neurotoxicity, and his work shaped their lead standards.â€�5 Similar to fluoride, in 2016, a lawsuit against the EPA, brought by Earthjustice, called on the EPA to reduce the amount of lead allowed in household dust to protect children.
The suit resulted in a change to the EPAâ€™s lead standards,6 and Lanphearâ€™s research was instrumental in the process. Dr. Howard Hu, former founding dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, who is now the chair of the department of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, also testified regarding fluorideâ€™s potential to lower IQ in children.
Twelve-Year Study Demonstrates Fluorideâ€™s Risks to Children
Hu was the lead investigator on a 12-year study that showed higher exposure to fluoride while in utero is associated with lower scores on tests of cognitive function in childhood, at the age of 4 and 6 to 12 years.7
The study involved 299 pairs of women and their babies. Mexico does not fluoridate their drinking water, but the study participants were exposed to fluoride via fluoridated salt and varying levels of naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water.
While previous studies have used measurements of fluoride levels in drinking water to estimate a populationâ€™s exposure, Huâ€™s study used urine samples â€” in both the mothers and their children â€” to determine fluoride exposure.
The researchers then compared fluoride levels with each childâ€™s intelligence, assessed using the General Cognitive Index (GCI) of the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities at age 4 and again between the ages of 6 and 12 years using the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI).8
While the childrenâ€™s fluoride levels at ages 4 and 6 to 12 were not associated with their intelligence, the study found that exposure that occurs prenatally was linked to lower intelligence scores. In fact, women with higher levels of fluoride in their urine during pregnancy were more likely to have children with lower intelligence.
Specifically, each 0.5 milligram per liter increase in pregnant womenâ€™s fluoride levels was associated with a reduction of 3.15 and 2.5 points on the childrenâ€™s GCI and WASI scores, respectively.
The EPA previously attempted to block FAN not only from obtaining internal EPA documents but also from using this new research on fluorideâ€™s toxicity in the trial. Fortunately, the court denied the EPAâ€™s motion, which meant the 12-year study could be used in the case. According to Connett:9
â€œThe rapidly emerging science on developmental neurotoxicity, especially loss of IQ from early life exposure to fluoride, is a game-changer.
It has brought the worldâ€™s leading environmental health experts to not only engage in the science with the help of millions of dollars in National Institutes of Health funding, but also to conclude that the risk to children is too great to consider water fluoridation safe.â€�
Another EPA â€˜Go-To Manâ€™ Confirms Fluorideâ€™s Toxicity
Dr. Philippe Grandjean, an internationally known expert in environmental epidemiology, with ties to both Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Southern Denmark, was the sole witness on the trialâ€™s second day. According to FAN, Grandjean is the EPAâ€™s go-to-person on mercuryâ€™s neurotoxicity10 and has warned about the risks of exposing children to neurotoxicants during early life and in utero.
Grandjean has also researched fluoride, including a 2012 meta-analysis that found a lowering in IQ among children with higher fluoride exposure.11 During the trial, the Plaintiffs asked Granjean to review the literature since his 2012 meta-analysis. FAN reported:12
â€œFor this analysis, Grandjean did what is called a Benchmark Dose (BMD) study (using methods that he and his colleagues have pioneered) and used by the EPA. He concluded that a safe reference dose (RfD) be no higher than 0.15 mg per day to protect against a loss of one IQ point â€¦
A dose of 0.15 mg of fluoride day would be reached by a pregnant mother drinking just one glass of fluoridated tap water a day. No parent would agree that a loss of one IQ point or more is a reasonable risk to take in order to achieve a very small benefit to teeth later in their lives.
There are few scientists who now believe that any benefit accrues to the teeth during the fetal stage or early infancy when the greatest risks to the developing brain occur â€¦
Grandjean found â€˜no reasonable doubt that developmental neurotoxicityâ€™ was â€˜a serious human health risk associated with elevated fluoride exposure.â€™ That exposure, he said, is â€˜occurring at the levels added to drinking water in fluoridated areas.â€™â€�
Dozens of Studies Link Fluoride Exposure to Lower IQ
Evidence presented at the trial will show not only that neurotoxicity is a hazard of fluoride exposure, but also that the hazard exists at the doses ingested in fluoridated areas.13 This risk is unreasonable and provides cause to prohibit the addition of fluoridation chemicals to public water systems in the U.S.
While the initial lawsuit complaint states that more than 50 studies link fluoride to cognitive deficits in humans, 15 more such studies were published since then, making it a total of 65 studies showing that elevated fluoride exposure is associated with reduced IQ in humans.14 A sample of the compelling research includes:15
In 2012, a meta-analysis funded by Harvard found that children who ingested higher levels of fluoride tested, on average, seven IQ points lower than children who ingested lower levels. Many of the childrenâ€™s total fluoride exposures were at levels that millions of Americans are exposed to.16
In 2018, a Canadian study found that iodine-deficient adults, which make up close to 18% of the U.S. population, with higher fluoride levels were at an increased risk of hypothyroidism, which is linked to lower IQ.17
A JAMA Pediatrics study published in 2019 found that every 1 mg/L increase in fluoride in Canadian pregnant womenâ€™s urine was linked to a 4.5 decrease in IQ in their male children.18 According to FAN, â€œThe physician editor of JAMA Pediatrics said â€˜I would not have my wife drink fluoridated waterâ€™ if she was pregnant.â€�19
Children living in fluoridated areas has a nearly 300% higher risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) compared to children not living in fluoridated areas.20
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that babies fed formula mixed with fluoridated water had IQs that were an average of four points lower than babies fed formula mixed with nonfluoridated water.21 â€œLosses of nonverbal IQ were even more serious, an average of 9 points,â€� FAN noted.
A systematic review of 149 human studies and 339 animal studies, conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, concluded, â€œfluoride is presumed to be a cognitive neurodevelopmental hazard to humans.â€�22
The Time Has Come to Stop Water Fluoridation
Drinking fluoridated water, which poses risks to your brain and overall health when ingested, makes little sense, especially since any benefits it provides to your teeth occur from topical exposure. When you drink fluoridated water, 99% of the fluoride goes down the drain and into the environment.23
If you want fluoride for your teeth, use fluoridated toothpaste â€” donâ€™t drink fluoridated water, trading your brain health for your teeth. That being said, I donâ€™t recommend fluoridated toothpaste either, as there are ways to keep your teeth healthy that donâ€™t involve neurotoxic agents like fluoride.
Itâ€™s worth noting that Japan and 97% of western Europe do not fluoridate their water, and in the U.S., more Americans drink fluoridated water than in the rest of the world combined.24 Itâ€™s time for the U.S. to end this harmful and obsolete practice. Letâ€™s hope that, with this lawsuit, FAN and partners get their victory in the form of fluoridated water finally being outlawed â€” a victory that would benefit children for generations to come.