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Fluoride in Foods

Take Action on Fluoride Pesticides in Foods

A coalition of health and environmental groups have filed a petition with the EPA, indicating the agency has violated federal laws for establishing allowable levels of fluoride pesticide residues in foods. Specifically, the petitioners (including Fluoride Action Network, Beyond Pesticides and Environmental Working Group) are asking the EPA to prohibit the use of sulfuryl fluoride in food production. The coalition shows how the agency violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), when the agency failed to thoroughly evaluate the negative health impacts due to exposure to these chemicals in foods. Elevated levels of fluoride are associated with bone fractures, thyroid function losses, IQ deficits, bone cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. The EPA has posted a public comment period on the issue ending August 4, 2006.


2004: Dow AgroSciences plans to expand its use of the pesticide sulfuryl fluoride (trade named ProFume) to fumigate food processing facilities and storage areas. In order to do so, the chemical corporation first convinces the EPA to weaken regulations on this pesticide. The new increased use of fluoride pesticides allows the chemical to accumulate in the food and thus in the bodies of consumers, whose systems are already being exposed to the "safe" amount of fluoride through fluoridated drinking water. USDA's surveillance program for pesticide residues on foods routinely finds samples bought at stores that exceed the EPA tolerances for fluoride, casting doubt on assurances that the new tolerances continue to maintain levels safe for human health.

2005: Over 7,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees called on Congress to pass a moratorium on the use of fluoride in drinking water, citing a series of new studies directly connecting the chemical to cancer. The group, made up predominantly of EPA scientists, sent letters to key Congressional committees and the EPA Secretary, calling for the EPA to classify fluoride as a human carcinogen. As a result, the National Academy of Sciences was instructed to review relevant studies and report to Congress and the EPA on the topic in early 2006.

MARCH 2006: The National Academy of Sciences released a report indicating that the current legal levels of fluoride in drinking water are dangerous and should be lowered. Although the U.S. government states that only 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams of fluoride per liter of drinking water is necessary to help prevent tooth decay, up to four times that amount is present in some municipal water supplies. The fluoride debate has raged on for over 60 years, with opponents pointing to data showing that it's effective when applied topically but not ingested. Consumers can learn how much fluoride is in their tap water by asking their local utility, and most of it can be removed through filtration.

JUNE 2006: Israel calls for a ban on fluoride based on scientific data revealing toxicity.

JULY 2006: A coalition of health and environmental groups file a petition with the EPA, indicating the agency has violated federal laws for establishing allowable levels of fluoride pesticide residues in foods. The EPA opens up a public comment period until August 4, 2006.

Important Related Links

Fluoride Petition Filed by Coalition of Groups to the EPA (PDF)

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