After numerous delays, and interventions by Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine, the US National Toxicology Program’s review of Fluoride’s toxicity will soon be released to the public. The move is the latest development in the nearly decade-long legal battle between the Fluoride Action Network, Food and Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”).
Attorneys with the Fluoride Action Network and the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (“NIEHS”), parent agency for the National Toxicology Program (“NTP”), have agreed to the release of the long-delayed NTP review on fluoride’s toxicity. The release of the documents will play a major role in the next phase of the ongoing lawsuit against the EPA.
The decision to release the documents was made at a 3 February meeting between counsel for the Fluoride Action Network and the NIEHS following a subpoena requesting comments from the agency, the NTP’s responses, and additional documents relevant to the decision not published in the NTP’s completed fluoride monograph in May 2022.
The NIEHS agreed to publicly post the NTP monograph to the NTP website, as well as comments provided by a little-known bureaucracy known as the Board of Scientific Counsellors, and the NTP’s subsequent responses. In addition to the NTP monograph, they will also publish a related meta-analysis that has been a subject of debate in recent hearings.
In a hearing on 10 January, Michael Connett, representing the Fluoride Action Network and other plaintiffs, expressed interest in obtaining comments from officials within the Department of Health and Human Services. In a declaration to the court, Dr. Richard Woychik, Director of the NIEHS, claimed it is these comments from unknown officials at the HHS which lead to the monograph being put on hold.
The EPA told Judge Edward Chen these comments should be privileged and not allowed as evidence in court or made public. Ultimately, Judge Chen ordered the two parties to meet and come to an agreement about which documents would be made public.
The NIEHS agreed to post the documents on or before 15 March, before the next scheduled court hearing on 11 April.
Judge Chen has previously said he is likely to set a new trial date at the April hearing. The release of the NTP monograph, a related meta-analysis and interagency comments are likely to play a major role in the second trial phase of the nearly decade-long legal battle.
The Fluoride Emails Reveal Corruption of Science
The discussion around the comments related to the NTP’s unreleased monograph stem from revelations contained within internal CDC emails which were obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests by Connett. The emails indicate the NTP report was not made public due to interference from Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine and National Institute of Health Director Lawrence A. Tabak. One email from the CDC dated June 3, 2022, specifically stated, “ASH Levine has put the report on hold until further notice.”
Connett outlined the findings of the emails in several exhibits submitted to Judge Chen. “These emails confirm that the NTP considered the May 2022 monograph to be the NTP’s final report,” Connett writes. “They also confirm that the CDC was opposed to the NTP releasing the report, and that leadership at the top levels of the Department of Health Human Services intervened to stop the report from being released.”
As Connett notes, on April 28, 2022, Dr. Mary Wolfe, the Director of NTP’s Office of Policy, Review and Outreach, emailed Casey Hannan, the Director of CDC’s Division of Oral Health, and stated that the NTP’s “analysis and conclusions are set”. Dr. Wolfe also let Hannan know that the NTP had reviewed the CDC’s submitted comments, but still planned to release the review “mid/late May” 2022.
In a 11 May 2022 email, Wolfe again notifies Hannan and the CDC that the NTP has “set 18 May 2022 for publication of the monograph. The monograph will be posted to the NTP website, and we will email a notice of the posting to NTP listserv subscribers.”
However, later that day and the following day, Dr. Karen Hacker, the Director of CDC’s National Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (“NCCDPHP”), tells Dr. Wolfe that there is concern within the CDC about publishing the NTP review without an additional review by “NIH leadership”. Hacker also asked about the potential of a “interagency review” by the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”).
Dr. Wolfe subsequently told the CDC that “we [the NTP] believe the current findings, as stated in the monograph, reflect the scope of our evaluation and the available scientific literature and no revision is needed”.
Meanwhile, another study on the toxicity of fluoride has been published by scientists from Toronto’s York University in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The study, ‘Fluoride Exposure And Hypothyroidism In A Canadian Pregnancy Cohort’, linked fluoride exposure with an increased risk of hypothyroidism in pregnant women.
“The findings are concerning because hypothyroidism is a known cause of brain-based disorders in children,” stated Christine Till, PhD, clinical neuropsychologist and one of the study’s authors.
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