Updated 2:05 p.m.
Just days after U.S. health officials moved to reduce the level of fluoride in U.S. drinking water, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to ban the use of a fluoride-based pesticide on food because the fluoride in pesticide residue could be contributing to over-exposure of children.
The EPA has proposed granting a petition to ban sulfuryl flouride by Environmental Working Group and two other groups, Fluoride Action Network and Beyond Pesticides. Sulfuryl fluoride is a toxic greenhouse gas used to fumigate buildings and food to kill insects. It has been made by Dow AgroSciences since 1959 and used to kill termites and in food processing facilities and on some foods (cereal grains, dried fruits, tree nuts, etc.); since 2005 it has also been used directly on coffee, cocoa beans and other food commodities. It's use has grown as an alternative to methyl bromide, which has been phased out because it depletes the ozone layer. Under the proposed new rule, the pesticide would no longer be used on most foods within 90 days, and it would be phased out for certain crops within three years.
"With today's announcement, the EPA Office of Pesticide Program has concluded that the current legal limit of the pesticide residue on food does not adequately protect children from aggregate fluoride exposures, such as drinking water and toothpaste," according to the Environmental Working Group.
The decision also seems to support the contention of health advocates, often dismissed as conspiracy theorists, that fluoride in drinking water is a concern:
"For decades, people who raised concerns about fluoride being added to tap water or food were dismissed as crazy," said Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group. "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. We commend the Obama administration for these actions, which begin, at long last, to put the use and regulation of fluoride on a sound scientific footing."
To learn more about what pesticide residues are on the foods sold in the U.S., search whatsonmyfood.org, or buy organic food, which is grown without the use of pesticides.
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