The National Toxicology Program on Wednesday released a draft report linking prenatal and childhood fluoride exposure to reduced IQ in children, after public health officials tried for almost a year to block its publication.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initially blocked the NTP from releasing the report, according to emails obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
But a court order stemming from a lawsuit filed by Food and Water Watch against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) forced the report’s release this week.
The NTP, an interagency program run by HHS that researches and reports on environmental toxins, conducted a six-year systematic review to assess scientific studies on fluoride exposure and potential neurodevelopmental and cognitive health effects in humans.
The report, containing a monograph and a meta-analysis, went through two rounds of peer review by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Comments from reviewers and HHS and NTP’s responses also were included in the report released Wednesday.
“These findings fly in the face of the empty, unscientific claims U.S. health officials have propagated for years, namely that water fluoridation is safe and beneficial,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Children’s Health Defense chairman and chief litigation counsel. “It’s past time to eliminate this neurotoxin from our water supply.”
The controversial report will play a key role in determining the outcome of a lawsuit brought in 2017 by several nonprofits against the EPA to end fluoridation of drinking water, plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Connett told The Defender.
“We had to fight hard to have this report even made public,” Connett said. “They [CDC and HHS] buried this. If they had gotten their way, this report would have never even seen the light of day,” Connett said.
Since the trial began in 2020, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen has been waiting for the NTP to complete a systematic review of fluoride’s neurotoxicity before ruling on the case.
Groups like the American Dental Association publicly pressured the NTP to “exclude any neurotoxin claims” from the reports.
The findings: fluoride and lowered IQ in children
According to the report, 8 of the 9 “high-quality studies examining cognitive or neurodevelopmental outcomes reported associations with fluoride exposure.”
Of the 19 high-quality studies assessing the association between fluoride and IQ in children, 18 reported an association between higher fluoride exposure and lower IQ in children. Forty-six of the 53 low-quality studies also found evidence of that association.
Levels of fluoride found in drinking water in the U.S. are typically 0.7 mg/L, which is lower than the 1.5 mg/L levels found to be neurotoxic by the reports.
On that basis, HHS’ review of the reports recommended the NTP revise its assessment such that, “all conclusory statements in this document should be explicit that any findings from the included studies only apply to water fluoride concentrations above 1.5 mg/L.”
The NTP responded:
“We do not agree with this comment. Our assessment considers fluoride exposures from all sources, not just water.
As discussed in the pre-publication 2022 NTP Monograph, because fluoride is also found in certain foods, dental products, some pharmaceuticals, and other sources, individual behaviors are likely an important determinant of actual exposures.”
Rick North, former CEO of the American Cancer Society’s Oregon division and Fluoride Action Network board member told The Defender that “people consume large amounts of fluoride through tea and other drinks and processed foods made with fluoridated water, not to mention pesticide ingestion and fluoride from air pollution.”
He also said that people’s fluoride exposure can depend on how much water they drink.
The NTP confirmed that people exposed to levels of fluoride lower than 1.5 mg/L in the water system could have high levels of fluoride in their systems. It stated:
“Even in the optimally fluoridated cities [fluoridated at 0.7 mg/L] in Canada studied by Green et al. (2019), individual exposure levels, as documented by repeated urinary measurements, suggest widely varying total exposures from water combined with fluoride from other sources.”
It added, “our moderate confidence conclusion is primarily based on studies with total fluoride exposure that approximates or exceeds what is generally associated with consumption of optimally fluoridated water [0.7 mg/L] in the United States.”
“We have stressed in our monograph that our conclusions apply to total fluoride exposures rather than to exposures exclusively through drinking water.”
Also, different people have different risk levels, he said. Pregnant women and bottle-fed babies, for example, are some of the populations at highest risk.
Top HHS and CDC officials tried to ‘water down’ and block the report
In 2016, a group of six nonprofit organizations and several individuals petitioned the EPA to end fluoridation of drinking water in the U.S. based on evidence of health risks associated with fluoride, namely neurotoxicity.
The EPA rejected the petition.
In response, Food and Water Watch, Fluoride Action Network and others sued the EPA in 2017, seeking an end to water fluoridation.
The plaintiffs argued that water fluoridation violates the EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act and that fluoride is neurotoxic and lowers children’s IQ.
They based their initial claims on dozens of studies and reviews demonstrating fluoride’s neurotoxicity. Studies have also linked fluoride to a variety of other health risks in both children and adults, and evidence shows it to be an endocrine disruptor.
The EPA denied water fluoridation causes harm.
A seven-day trial took place in federal court in San Francisco in June 2020, but Judge Chen put the proceedings on hold pending the release of NTP’s systematic review of research available on the neurotoxic effects of fluoride.
The report, slated for release in May 2022, was delayed several times and sent for several rounds of peer review.
In late October 2022, Judge Chen ended the stay on the NTP review, ruling that the parties involved could view the NTP review in its unpublished form to better inform his final decision.
However, due to concerns from the EPA, he also ruled the report could not be made public unless the NTP released it.
In December 2022, the plaintiffs filed several exhibits with Judge Chen, including a redacted version of the NTP’s assessment of fluoride’s neurotoxicity and internal emails between the CDC and the NTP obtained through FOIA demonstrating that HHS blocked the release of the long-delayed review, the plaintiffs argued.
The documents showed that on May 11, NTP notified the agencies that it was going to release the report on May 18, but the CDC opposed the release.
On January 20, Judge Chen denied the EPA’s request to add another six-month period to the stay he lifted in his October ruling.
The monograph and meta-analysis released yesterday on the NTP’s website are both labeled “draft.”
“Unfortunately, fluoridation promoters and high-level government officials have continued to label it a draft,” North said. “It wasn’t.”
Experts associated with the lawsuit against the EPA will now analyze and interpret the report in future hearings and then Judge Chen will rule.
The next hearing date is scheduled for April 11, 2023. At that time, the judge will set a date for the next phase of the trial.
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
is their mission improving public health or impeding it?
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I assume your question is rhetorical, nomad, right? I think we all know the answer.
Don’t we have enough poisons in our water, without government helping to manufacture a nation of idiots with strong teeth?
Who is pushing/selling fluoride to the water suppliers? Who is promoting it to the bureaucrats in the EPA and CDC? Why do we allow these agencies to exist?
As I understand, Katherine, fluoride is a major pollutant from numerous industries (here in New Zealand it’s derived from the phosphate fertilizer industry which is required to scrub their chimneys to prevent it being released to air). Safe disposal has always been a major hassle, thus the decision to to put it the public water supply. Edward Bernays, the father of public relations (and author of the book Propaganda) is also the father of water fluoridation: https://stuartbramhall.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/edward-bernays-father-of-water-fluoridation/