On Wednesday, the second phase of the fluoride lawsuit will resume at the Phillip Burton Federal Courthouse after nearly four years of delays. The proceedings will be the latest hearings in an eight-year legal battle between the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).
The battle began following the EPA’s 2016 decision to deny the plaintiff’s petition under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The FAN is attempting to prove that fluoride is a neurotoxin and should be regulated or banned under the TSCA.
At a recent pre-trial hearing, Judge Edward Chen agreed to allow additional discovery related to the long-delayed review of fluoride’s toxicity conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP). The Fluoride Action Network (FAN) noted that after “extensive negotiations” the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to produce a draft copy of the NTP’s December 2022 report on fluoride.
According to emails obtained by FAN via Freedom of Information Act requests, the NTP’s review of fluoride was ready for public release in May 2022. However, these emails between the US NTP and the CDC state that Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) Rachel Levine intervened to stop the release of the NTP review, also known internally as a monograph.
An email dated June 3rd, 2022, shows Nicole Johnson, Associate Director for Policy, Partnerships, and Strategic Communication in CDC’s Oral Health Division contacting Jennifer Greaser, a senior public health policy analyst in CDC’s Washington office. Johnson states: “The latest we heard (yesterday) is that ASH Levine has put the report on hold until further notice.”
In May 2023, the NTP released the controversial review of the science behind claims that fluoride reduces children’s IQs. The NTP review from May 2022 confirms the findings of two earlier drafts from 2019 and 2020, which concluded that prenatal and early life exposure to fluoride can reduce IQ.
At the recent pre-trial hearing, Judge Chen also ruled that although the NTP report was still only available in draft form, the report would be given “a fair amount of weight” in the trial. However, regarding the evidence relating to political suppression of the NTP report, Judge Chen emphasized he is most interested in the science of the report rather than the politics.
Judge Chen also approved of the NTP’s former Scientific Director testifying on NTP’s May 2022 Monograph on fluoride. The former director will testify that the May 2022 report was complete and ready to be published to the public.
Did an EPA Witness Lie Under Oath?
The Fluoride Action Network presented Judge Chen with documentation they claim proves one of the EPA’s key expert witnesses lied during previous testimony. Dr. Jesus Ibarluzea conducted a study which found that fluoride does not lower IQ in children. In fact, his study claimed that fluoride played a role in increasing the IQ of boys.
At the pre-trial hearing, FAN’s attorneys shared an email obtained by FOIA which contradicts what Dr. Ibarluzea stated under oath. While being questioned under oath, Dr. Ibarluzea stated he had never been asked to delete information relating to his fluoride study. “Never, never, never, ever,” Ibarluzea said at the time.
However, an email with the CDC’s Division of Oral Health about his study ended with the words “Please delete this message.” The rest of the email was redacted by the CDC. We can expect to learn more details about the exchange during the course of the 2nd phase of the trial.
Lawsuit Stuck in Legal Limbo For Years
The first phase of the fluoride lawsuit took place in June 2020 when the world was locked down during the COVID-19 crisis. TLAV exclusively reported on the daily proceedings of the lawsuit. By August 2020, Judge Chen had delayed a ruling until new studies from the US government were released. However, the public release of those studies was delayed several times. Judge Chen would eventually rule that the trial could resume in January and that the proceedings would take place in person for the first time because of the end of COVID-19 restrictions,
Despite the potentially history-making implications of this lawsuit, there has been little to no mainstream coverage of the hearings. In fact, there has been very little reporting outside of TLAV. This is unfortunate because there have been several huge revelations in recent years. Hopefully, with this second phase of the trial, we will see a renewed interest in the actual science behind water fluoridation.
The second phase will began on Wednesday January 31st at 8:30 am Pacific. The trial is scheduled from January 31st to February 13th. The proceedings can be viewed on Zoom. Details available here.