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Can water fluoridation be the target of toxic tort litigation? P.2

In our previous post, we began looking at the issue of water fluoridation. As we noted, water fluoridation is largely unquestioned in the United States, even if certain studies have raised public health concerns about the practice.

The question, for citizens, is: what recourse is there for those who are routinely exposed to fluoride. The answer, unfortunately, is: not much, unless perhaps a harmful mistake is made with respect to water fluoridation. Different states regulate water fluoridation differently. Some states mandate water fluoridation, while other states only mandate a vote by the population or delegate the authority to make a decision about fluoridation to local governments or water quality agencies. 

According to the Fluoride Action Network, Georgia is among the states which mandate fluoridation in all communities. There are some limitations on this mandate, though. Communities can choose to opt out of the requirement by holding a referendum by 10 percent of registered voters. In addition, citizens are able to receive a tax-deduction for a fluoride filtration system if they receive a recommendation from a physician to stop using fluoridated water. Most communities in Georgia do fluoridate the water.

Again, generally speaking, it is difficult to take legal action with regard to water fluoridation. One reason is that mandating water fluoridation has been found to be constitutional. Some communities have been unable to mandate fluoridation for procedural reasons, such as lack of authority or failure to follow the correct process as laid out in state law. It is possible that legal action could be taken for over-fluoridation of the public water supply. In our next post, we’ll pick up on this point and other possibilities for legal action with respect to fluoride exposure.

Sources: nationaloralhealthconference.com, “Fluoridation Law,” presentation by William Bailey DDS, MPH, CDC Division of Oral Health, 2009.

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