EPA in Legal Battle Over Water Fluoridation

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Bloomberg Law: Fluoridation case challenges EPA chemical evaluation. The lawsuit is one of the first cases under the TSCA’s citizen-suit provision to reach trial.

A trial in federal court breaks new ground by challenging fluoridation, a 70-year-old public health measure affecting more than 200 million Americans served by public water systems. Further, the case is a unique one as it is the first-ever legal challenge to the EPA’s dismissal of a citizen’s petition under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Judge Edward M. Chen, the trial judge, asked the parties to return to the negotiating table to discuss a path forward, but suggested he would issue a decision if the parties fail to reach an agreement.

The decision is being closely watched, as a plaintiff victory could spur more advocacy groups to take advantage of Section 21.

In fact, the plaintiffs in the case have already won a series of legal victories that could set precedent for similar suits in the future. This includes the court’s denial of the EPA’s motion to dismiss and its restriction on EPA evidence regarding the purported oral health benefits of fluoridation.

Genesis of Case

The case’s genesis traces back to November 22, 2016, when the plaintiffs petitioned the EPA to fulfill its responsibilities by banning the addition of fluoridating chemicals to water. The EPA denied the petition.

Scientific Testimony

Testifying for the plaintiffs were scientists who had published a series of long-term studies of human exposure to fluoride in well-regarded, peer-reviewed journals.

In court, EPA witnesses conceded that fluoride at high enough levels can harm developing brains.

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