Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel represents plaintiffs in a California fluoride case against the U.S. EPA in one of the first remote trials in the country.
Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel attorney, Michael Connett and firm partner C. Andrew Waters, wrapped up a civil trial last week representing several plaintiffs against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a fluoride lawsuit in California. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is one of the first remote or virtual trials in the country. In the closely watched case that could affect nearly 200 million Americans, the plaintiffs seek to force the EPA to ban the addition of fluoride to drinking water. The online legal news publication Law360.com is reporting on the case.
This recap covers the first week of trial and pulls direct quote highlights from Law360 stories.
“Using the Toxic Substances Control Act’s citizen suit provision, Food & Water Watch – along with other groups and individuals – has asked the California federal court to overturn the EPA’s rejection of their 2016 petition to ban fluoride in drinking water.”
Water Fluoridation has long been a debated issue in the United States. Though its sole purpose is to prevent tooth decay, excessive exposure to fluoride has been scientifically proven to have dangerous health implications. The plaintiffs in this case claim that it is an unsafe medical practice that impairs water quality rather than improving it, particularly because “topical application, not ingestion is the most effective way to use fluoride”.
In the complaint, they cite the National Research Council conclusions on how fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain. Additionally, once fluoride is put in water, it is impossible to control the dose each individual receives – rendering the only solution the complete ban of it in drinking water.
U.S. District Judge Edward Chen – who has overseen the litigation since it began in 2017 – ordered the trial to be bifurcated, with one phase focusing on whether fluoride poses an unreasonable risk to people who drink water containing fluoride. If the judge finds that it does by weighing testimony from competing experts and scientific studies offered by both sides, the trial will move to a second phase where a remedy will be determined.
Advocates Say Fluoride Harms Infants as Trial Opens – June 8, 2020
“During a bench trial held via Zoom, Michael Connett of Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel argued on behalf of Food & Water Watch Inc., Fluoride Action Network and other nonprofits and individuals that recent studies show certain levels of fluoride exposure can adversely impact brain development, leading to lower IQ scores and ADHD in children.”
In the first week of the trial, Mr. Connett said the evidence presented will show that fluoride consumed by pregnant mothers impacts fetal development, leading to lower IQ scores and ADHD in children.
He also added that they plan to call four scientific experts to support the plaintiffs case, but concern lies in the fact that the EPA’s experts are from a consulting firm that primarily serves chemical giants like Dow Chemical, Monsanto and the American Petroleum Institute – corporations that regularly persist despite lawsuits and complaints.
When it came time for the defense to present their opening arguments, they claimed that the studies presented by the plaintiffs were unreliable, biased and inconsistent. In addition to this, they argued that the plaintiffs have no right to sue as they are not pregnant mothers or newborns. “These plaintiffs are not the right people to be presenting the case”.
After opening arguments came the examination of EPA senior health scientist Joyce Donahue, who acknowledged that there are studies that indicate that fluoride might impact IQ scores. Then the plaintiff’s expert, professor and physician Dr. Howard Hu testified that a Mexico City cohort study showed significant IQ reduction by 2-3 points. “Hu added that a 3-point IQ shift could have significant repercussions for a population…”
“Fluoride is a human developmental neurotoxin that lowers Children’s IQ levels, a Harvard University epidemiologist warned…testifying on behalf of nonprofit groups seeking to force the U.S. Environmental Agency to ban adding fluoride to 200 million Americans’ drinking water”.
Dr. Philippe Grandjean, the plaintiffs expert witness testified that the “current exposure levels are way too high when it comes to fluoride in the U.S. drinking water”. The cognitive development specialist affirmed findings from studies, including one of his own, that linked pregnant women’s fluoride exposure to decreased IQ levels in their children.
EPA Scientist Testifies Animal Studies Point to Fluoride Risks – June 10, 2020
A series of witnesses were called to testify on Wednesday to the damaging effects of water fluoridation, including an EPA scientist who said that animal studies support the conclusion that fluoride has consequential effects on infant brain development.
“Dr. Kris Thayer, director of the EPA’s Chemical and Pollutant Assessment Division, testified by video that while there are limitations to the data collected in the studies of the impact of fluoride exposure on animals, the animal studies support the conclusion that fluoride causes neurotoxic effects in humans.”
Plaintiff’s expert witness Dr. Bruce Lanphear also testified that higher exposure to fluoride during pregnancy was associated with diminished IQ scores in children 3 to 4 years of age. Though Lanphear’s research has been partly funded by the EPA in the past, he explained that he was not being compensated for his work in the legal case, but that his participation is part of his public duty.
“We’ve allowed children with rapidly growing brains to be expose to toxins” he stated.
As phase one of the trial went on, further information was revealed to support the conclusion that fluoride in water presents a considerable health risk. Another witness, Dr. Kathleen Thiessen testified that the National Research Council’s 2006 scientific review on water fluoridation and human health concluded that fluoride exposure can reduce thyroid function – a particular concern for pregnant women as thyroid function can reduce the proper development of their offspring.
Look for continued coverage on Law360 or return here for further fluoride lawsuit recaps.