Calif. water district sued over fluoridation program

2011 08 12 15 22 39 574 Tap Water 70

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) is allegedly using an unapproved drug to fulfill its water fluoridation program, according to a lawsuit filed August 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (Case No. 11-cv-01765-JLS-BLM).

The lawsuit, filed by four Southern California residents "on behalf of themselves and the general public," alleges that MWD is injecting hydrofluosilicic acid into the water supply for the purpose of treating disease and dental caries. It also alleges that hydrofluosilicic acid has never been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the treatment of disease or dental caries.

"The MWD's use of an unapproved drug to medicate plaintiffs and other persons in order to forcibly treat disease and dental caries without their consent violates the Constitutional rights of these citizens and violates the Food and Drug Administration Act," the lawsuit states.

The industrial-grade hydrofluosilicic acid that the MWD uses is a byproduct of fertilizer production and should not be confused with different fluoride compounds, such as calcium fluoride or sodium fluoride, that are naturally occurring or already approved for certain uses, according to the complaint.

Fluoridation is typically accomplished by adding one of three compounds to the water: sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid, or sodium fluorosilicate -- none of which are FDA approved either, according to Jeff Green, national director for Citizens for Safe Drinking Water and a spokesperson for the plaintiffs.

"MWD has chosen to medicate the plaintiffs with an unapproved drug without their consent that is not produced with controlled manufacturing practices and consistencies in impurities, and analyses of hydrofluosilicic acid indicate contamination of the unapproved drug with dangerous impurities, including lead and arsenic, and varying amounts of cadmium, mercury, beryllium, and other contaminants," the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs claim that MWD made public declarations that it intended to add fluoride to the water to safely and effectively treat and prevent dental disease, and then, "in a classic bait and switch, selected and initiated use of an unapproved drug to fulfill that intention," according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages but are calling for the product to be thoroughly evaluated and approved before continuing to expose consumers without their consent, according to their attorney, Kyle Nordrehaug.

"This case does not challenge the public policy of fluoridation," Nordrehaug stated in a press release. "It does challenge MWD's bait-and-switch tactics of orchestrating statements by them and their down-line distributors of water to individual consumers when MWD knew that the actual drug product that they deliver had never had a toxicological study performed on the health and behavioral effects of its continued use until 2010, much less approval for MWD's perpetuation of absolute health claims."

Green agreed, noting that agencies such as the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency -- which gave up oversight authority for direct water additives in 1988 -- have not said that fluoride is safe and effective, but rather that the policy of water fluoridation is safe and effective.

"So we could not, in court, go after the public policy," he told "So if we win this, it doesn't stop them from fluoridating with another substance. It only goes after the selection of the particular product, which has never been proven safe and effective. MWD has made claims that the process is safe and effective, but hydrofluosilicic acid has never been proven safe and effective."

The lawsuit also contends that hydrofluosilicic acid is more harmful than sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid, or sodium fluorosilicate, Green added.

The MWD declined to comment, noting that it is still reviewing the litigation.

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