Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Industry Pushes for Unsafe Fluoride Levels in Food

Health + Wellness

Fluoride Action Network Environmental Working Group Beyond Pesticides

Dow AgroSciences, one of the nation’s largest pesticide makers, along with various food companies, have persuaded several members of Congress to endorse a bill that directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse a proposed phaseout of sulfuryl fluoride, a highly toxic food fumigant and potent greenhouse gas. If passed, the bill would make the U.S. one of only two western nations to allow sulfuryl fluoride on food, increase the number of American children ingesting unsafe levels of fluoride and create a food poisoning risk for consumers who purchase food that contains permissible levels of the fumigant.

The Pest Free Food Supply Act, sponsored by Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) and 14 others, seeks to prevent the proposed phaseout of sulfuryl fluoride from taking effect. The phaseout, which EPA proposed in January 2011, was prompted by a joint petition from the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Beyond Pesticides.

In seeking to prevent the phaseout from taking effect, the bill’s sponsors have adopted Dow’s widely discredited talking points on the safety and necessity of sulfuryl fluoride fumigation. The public should know:

  • Of the few western nations that allow food facilities to be fumigated with sulfuryl fluoride, only the U.S. and Australia allow fumigation to occur while food is still on the premises.
  • EPA based the proposed phaseout on its finding that many children are currently being overexposed to fluoride, and that there is no safe room for additional fluoride exposures. Under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), the EPA cannot approve a pesticide if people are currently receiving too much of the pesticide chemical (in this case, fluoride) from other sources.
  • Despite claims that sulfuryl fluoride produces a “tiny” increase in fluoride exposure, the maximum permissible levels in some fumigated foods are high enough to produce acute toxic reactions, such as nausea, vomiting and headache. A child eating a single portion of pancakes made with flour fumigated at the maximum permissible level (125 ppm F) would ingest enough fluoride to be at risk for flu-like symptoms. The risk is worse for powdered eggs, which are permitted to contain toothpaste-strength levels (900 ppm F). The Food and Drug Administration mandates that fluoride toothpastes warn users to immediately contact a poison control center if they accidentally swallow the paste. Unlike toothpaste, dried eggs are meant to be swallowed.
  • Fluoride is neurotoxic. More than 30 published studies have reported an association between fluoride and reduced IQ in children, Dow’s own animal studies show that the brain is the main target for sulfuryl fluoride’s effects, and fumigation workers who use sulfuryl fluoride have been found to suffer impaired cognitive function.
  • Sulfuryl fluoride is a potent greenhouse gas. Because of this, Sierra Club, Center for Environmental Health, Defenders of Wildlife and Center for Biological Diversity oppose Dow’s efforts to expand sulfuryl fluoride production.

“Before the agricultural processing industry uses its muscles to retain the use of sulfuryl fluoride, it should carefully research what other industrialized societies are using to protect food in processing and storage facilities," said Jay Feldman, director of Beyond Pesticides. "Some, like Canada, only allow the treatment of empty facilities before the introduction of food products; others use non-toxic methods like heat, refrigeration and carbon dioxide. In the U.S. some of these treatments would require the upgrading of old leaky storage facilities. This would be a far more sensible approach not only to protect our food supply but also to protect our children from unnecessary exposure to yet another toxic substance in their early lives.”

“There is a growing consensus that American children are exposed to too much fluoride, in part because of the use of sulfuryl fluoride," according to Sonya Lunder, senior analyst with the EWG. "To prevent the adverse health effects of overexposure to fluoride, EPA should finalize its proposal to phase out this pesticide and tackle the issue of fluoride in drinking water.” 

“Fluoride is too neurotoxic to be allowed on children’s food and EPA’s pesticide division deserves credit for taking the correct course of action in protecting the health of infants and children, rather than the profits of Dow AgroSciences,” notes Paul Connett, PhD, director of FAN.

FAN, Beyond Pesticides and EWG will vigorously oppose efforts to overturn EPA’s proposed phase-out of sulfuryl fluoride on food, and will fight to uphold the FQPA.

Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY and FOOD pages for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Oregano oil is an extract that is not as strong as the essential oil, but appears to be useful both when consumed or applied to the skin. Peakpx / CC by 1.0

By Alexandra Rowles

Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.

However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meets Ronaldo Caiado, governor of the state of Goiás on June 5, 2020. Palácio do Planalto / CC BY 2.0

Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has presided over the world's second worst coronavirus outbreak after the U.S., said Tuesday that he had tested positive for the virus.

Read More Show Less
Although natural gas produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, it is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Skitterphoto / PIxabay

By Emily Grubert

Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.

Read More Show Less
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as the first to effectively kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces, based on laboratory testing. Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a list of 431 products that are effective at killing viruses when they are on surfaces. Now, a good year for Lysol manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser just got better when the EPA said that two Lysol products are among the products that can kill the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveils the Green New Deal resolution in front of the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Judith Lewis Mernit

For all its posturing on climate change, the Democratic Party has long been weak on the actual policies we need to save us from extinction. President Barack Obama promised his presidency would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow," and then embraced natural gas, a major driver of global temperature rise, as a "bridge fuel." Climate legislation passed in the House in 2009 would have allowed industries to buy credits to pollute, a practice known to concentrate toxic air in black and brown neighborhoods while doing little to cut emissions.

Read More Show Less
About 30,000 claims contending that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are currently unsettled. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Bayer's $10 billion settlement to put an end to roughly 125,000 lawsuits against its popular weed killer Roundup, which contains glyphosate, hit a snag this week when a federal judge in San Francisco expressed skepticism over what rights future plaintiffs would have, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Hundreds of sudden elephant deaths in Botswana aren't just a loss for the ecosystem and global conservation efforts. Mario Micklisch / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Charli Shield

When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.

Read More Show Less