Fluoride becomes a TSCA test case
Following EPA’s rejection of a petition seeking a ban on fluoridation under the Toxic Substances Control Act last fall, advocacy groups filed legal action in the 9th Circuit U.S. District Court challenging the decision (Food & Water Watch Inc., et al, v. EPA). For policy wonks, the current litigation is not about fluoridation per se, but about the burden EPA can place on TSCA petitioners and EPA’s authority to target the application of TSCA to specific uses.
The litigation, which the court allowed to proceed late last year, uses a drinking water treatment practice as the test case. If the plaintiffs are successful, future petitioners would face a lower bar for seeking EPA review of chemicals in commerce under TSCA, which may facilitate reducing use of products that endanger drinking water supplies. It will also set the stage for a review of the risk posed by drinking water fluoridation practices under the 2016 amendments to TSCA (Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act) with its standard for "unreasonable risk," including consideration of effects on sensitive sub-populations and without consideration of cost.