Legal Luminaries Connett, RFK Jr Discuss Groundbreaking Water Fluoridation Trial Against EPA
Waters Kraus & Paul attorney Michael Connett sat down with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to discuss the lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over fluoridation chemicals in drinking water in the United States. Numerous studies have linked prenatal and early childhood exposure to fluoride with neurodevelopmental defects.
“It’s a very serious situation that really requires a rethink about how we use fluoride,” Connett told Kennedy in a video interview, adding that “the writing on the wall today is, you have to ban it from the water supply.”
Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), a group of non-profits and individuals petitioned the EPA in 2016 to end the addition of fluoridation chemicals into drinking water due to fluoride’s neurotoxicity. The EPA rejected the petition. In response, the groups, led by Connett, sued the EPA in federal court. The trial was held in June 2020, and the judge has yet to hand down a ruling.
Connett said he and others have been dealing with the EPA for the past 20 years trying to get safer water standards implemented, with the agency dragging its feet. However, TSCA Section 21 allowed the plaintiffs to bypass the stalling tactics and file a federal lawsuit. The suit is the first time a citizens’ group has ever taken a citizens’ petition under TSCA all the way to a federal trial, Connett said.
As part of the suit, Connett and the plaintiffs have compiled over 300 studies on both animals and humans that found a link between fluoride exposure and brain damage.
For example, 64 studies showed that children exposed to higher amounts of fluoride during early brain development scored about 3 to 7 points lower on their IQ tests. Fluoride offers no benefits to the fetus and infant, and evidence suggests that fluoride is toxic to the developing brain at levels routinely found in the general population.
About 75% of Americans on community water systems have fluoride in their tap water, according to Environmental Health News.
In January 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first town in the world to be artificially fluoridated. The previous year, a baseline study comparing Grand Rapids with the neighboring town of Muskegon had found similar decay levels in deciduous and permanent teeth in both areas. Six years later, surveys indicated that decay levels in 6-year-old children (those born since fluoridation began) in Grand Rapids were almost half of those in Muskegon. So in July 1951, city officials in Muskegon decided to fluoridate that town’s water supply, according to Nature.
Kennedy noted that many municipalities followed, but few questions about fluoride safety were ever asked or considered. The Centers for Disease Control actively promoted the effort as positive. “If the government is telling us this is safe, it must be safe,” Kennedy said.
“We failed to appreciate the unintended consequences,” Connett added, saying fluoride exposure has been found to be as damaging for brain development as leaded gasoline exposure.
Fluoride was added to toothpaste in the early 1970s, providing an important source of fluoride and contributing to the drop in decay rates around the world, according to Nature.
Health concerns expressed by experts have primarily been dismissed until recently. But, now, evidence is mounting. In an era of fluoridated toothpaste and other consumer products that boost dental health, the potential risks from consuming fluoridated water may outweigh the benefits, according to Harvard Public Health.
Currently, 97% of Western Europe has rejected water fluoridation with no negative impact on dental health, Connett said.
After closing arguments in the suit, Connett said that the federal judge commented on the record that the plaintiffs presented serious evidence and raised serious questions about fluoridation. As a result, he is hopeful that the EPA will be forced to take action to limit risk.
“The obvious way to eliminate risk is, don’t add chemicals to water,” Connett said.
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