Drinking Water Case Proceeds to Probe Fluoride Data, Court Says

2022-11-01

A federal court will allow a lawsuit to prohibit fluoride from drinking water to proceed to review new scientific evidence about the chemical’s potential to harm babies’ developing nervous systems.

Judge Edward M. Chen of the US District Court Northern District of California ruled on Friday that the case—filed in 2017 by Food & Water Watch and other advocacy groups—can proceed to review a scientific study and two summary evaluations of multiple fluoride health effects studies. The case has been on hold since April 2021.

The science the court wants to review includes a May 2022 unpublished, draft version of a federal health agency’s assessment of fluoride’s neurodevelopmental and other health effects. The court will obtain the National Toxicology Program’s draft health assessment via a protective order and not disseminate it “at this juncture,” Chen ruled.

The court will decide the timing of future expert disclosures and other actions after it’s reviewed the scientific evidence, he said.

The court’s desire to view the new science doesn’t indicate a conclusion about “the admissibility or weight of the evidence,” Chen said.

Diverse Groups Tracking

The lawsuit is being tracked by dental and other medical professionals that believe fluoride helps prevent cavities, as well as chemical law experts, and environmental health groups concerned about fluoride’s health effects. The case involves chemical legislation and challenges the 77-year old tradition of adding fluoride to drinking water as a public health measure.

The case was unique when filed, as it was the first to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s dismissal of a citizen’s petition authorized by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

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Bloomberg Law, 1-11-22
; https://news.bloomberglaw.com/environment-and-energy/drinking-water-case-proceeds-to-probe-fluoride-data-court-says