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Petitions lead to EPA ban on toxic sulfuryl fluoride

Jonathan Bensen, staff writer

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isk because it exposes children to excessive levels of toxic fluoride, and because it is a known toxin.

The decision follows a similar one made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reduce recommended maximum fluoride levels in tap water from 1.2 to 0.7 parts per million (ppm), a 42 percent decrease. Together, the two decisions represent a significant landmark victory in helping to rid the food and water supply of toxic fluoride additives.

"For decades, people who raised concerns about fluoride being added to tap water or food were dismissed as crazy," said Ken Cook, President of EWG. "All of a sudden we have two federal regulatory actions, announced just days apart, that tell us what was really crazy all those years: a government bureaucracy that ignored strong scientific evidence and clear warning signs of the threats fluoride has posed to public health all along."

Sulfuryl fluoride had been approved as a replacement for methyl bromide to fumigate various food items, including nuts and dried fruits, in order to ward off pests. But sulfuryl fluoride is a known human toxin that can cause hypotension, nausea, pulmonary edema, cardiac dysrhythmia, metabolic acidosis, and even death.

"This step by EPA is not only significant in regard to the particular pesticide tolerances involved," added Perry Wallace, professor of law at American University, and contributor to the petition efforts. "As a regulatory confirmation of our positions regarding the potential health effects of fluoride, it also has considerable precedential value for future initiatives to address this major area of concern."

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Jan. 19, 2011