February, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a petition to change the
way the agency treats fluoride.
The petition, filed under section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control
Act (TSCA) in November 2016, addressed potential neurotoxic effects that
fluoride could have on humans. The petitioners asserted that the “purposeful
fluoridation of drinking water presents an unreasonable risk to human health
from neurotoxicity, and that a ban on this use of fluoridation chemicals is
necessary to curtail this unreasonable risk.”
The petitioners argued nine claims about fluoridation,
including that fluoride is significantly neurotoxic to some human populations, that
consumption of fluoride can lead to elevated blood lead levels and that fluoridating
public water supplies has minimal public health benefits.
The EPA denied the petition, stating that “the petition has not set forth a
scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any persons have suffered
neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride in the U.S. through the
purposeful addition of fluoridation chemicals to drinking water or otherwise
from fluoride exposure in the U.S.”
Additionally, the EPA concluded that the petition did not
justify the regulation of fluoride chemicals as a category and that the studies
cited by the petitioners had substantial issues related to data quality.
The EPA response referenced other studies that showed the
safety of fluoride. The ruling is seen as consistent with mainstream scientific
acceptance of the safety of community water fluoridation.