Petitions lead to EPA ban on toxic sulfuryl fluoride

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted a petition filed by the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Beyond Pesticides, to stop the commercial use of sulfuryl fluoride in food. The EPA agreed with the groups’ position that the insecticide and food fumigant is a significant public health risk 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 intap waterfrom 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 thefoodand water supply of toxicfluorideadditives.

“For decades, people who raised concerns about fluoride being added to tapwateror 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 topublic healthall 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 byEPAis 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 potentialhealtheffects of fluoride, it also has considerable precedential value for future initiatives to address this major area of concern.”

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