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Treading the Water Debate: Dare I Mention the"F" word?

20036_269862607555_5594117_nBack in August when there was a rousing debate on fluoride on urbanMamas; I was pretty ambivalent about the issue. Like many, I drew on my own experience growing up with it to make my judgement. Drinking tap water and perhaps many other fluoridated beverages, showering and bathing in it daily for over several decades and not thinking much of it other than what I was told from my dentist - fluoride helps to prevent cavities and dental decay. And yet, I was still very surprised at the strong opposition to fluoride among friends and acquaintances here in Portland. I found myself unintentionally in the middle of the issue many times and was not able to respond to the many reasons why fluoride is bad.

When you read and hear about the case against fluoride it is alarming - industrial waste byproduct, toxic, causes cancer, infertility, lower IQ, doesn't help cavities, and the list goes on. It made me really wonder if I had been led astray all these years by my dentists, doctors and other public health professionals. But rather take the sound bites, tweets, Facebook posts at face value, I felt the need to check the sources. And what I continually found is that those snippets of "facts" that were shared so freely by anti-fluoride supporters weren't quite capturing the conclusions of the research studies.

A seemingly reasonable place to start understanding the concerns with fluroide was with the Clean Water Portland 12 Reasons to Vote No. My approach was simple, read about the reasons and then click on the links to check out the sources of the information and learn more about these issues. But what I found was, it wasn't that simple! The first few sources cited on the page erroneously brought up articles that had noting to do with the statements or the link didn't work. Despite the difficulty of navigating that one page, I did find myself lost on another site the Fluoride Action Network site reading and checking sources. The more I read, the more I wondered if fluoride was also the reason why I can't lose my baby weight and why my kids don't listen to me. I'm only kidding, but it did really seem that fluoride is the cause of everything wrong with this world. And perhaps maybe after the election, it may be the cause of friendships and marriages being broken up over the debate.

After investing a lot of time (too much time!) reading up on article after article, it only reaffirmed to me that while fluoride is toxic in high quanitities (anything is, even drinking too much pristine Portland water can kill you), it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be used at all. Chlorine is toxic in high doses and yet it's in our water; and I don't know how much I've inadvertenly consumed over the years swimming. But just because it's toxic, doesn't mean it shouldn't be used at all. More than anything, the time spent on looking at the issues has been a really good lesson in being skeptical of the information that's shared and reading the articles that are re-posted on Facebook and Twitter to come to my own conclusions. I've personally reached my limit on information intake on this whole fluoride debate and I leave you with what I have found to be the most reasoned articles. Take a look. These folks have done more digging into the concerns with fluoride and why many fall short of their claims; and can clearly articulate it more eloquently than I can. Maybe you've already decided, but if you haven't, it may clarify some of the purported arguments against it. It certainly did for me.

Note: These views are my own and not of the entire urbanMamas community.


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Thanks for this. Most of the "facts" that are cited are taken completely out of context (as you say in your piece)---it's kinda interesting that the anti-fluoride crusade includes tinfoil hat wearers on both the far left and far right. The same sort of people who think Benghazzzzzzzzzzzzzzi was the greatest cover up of all times, believe we're micro chipped and constantly watched, are birthers, think the FEMA re-education camps are coming, etc..

As you also point out, ANYTHING in excess is toxic. I briefly (less than a week) worked for an ambulance chaser type law firm. One of their biggest growth areas was suing denture adhesive manufacturers because people were getting zinc poisoning. Why? Because they weren't getting their dentures properly fitted and were using like a tube a day, completely contrary to the directions.

All I can say is, yup. I just hope there are more people out there following the links and reading the original studies.

Hi, I'm a local mama with a rambunctious two year old. I have also spent the last decade dealing with having Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a thyroid autoimmune disorder. My health has been quite the rollercoaster for the last ten years living with the reality of having an auoimmune disorder. Each and every day I am grateful that while things are still not as good as I would like, they are far better than they were 5 or 10 years ago.

I had most of my thyroid removed after a tumor showed up and all the biopsies were inconclusive. Thankfully it was a benign tumor and I didn't have to deal with the horrors of cancer, but nevertheless, I wouldn't wish my experience on anyone.

I gained 60 pounds over the course of two years and struggled with the seeming impossibility of losing any of it. I was exhausted and often slept 16-18 hours a day. I was in a continual brain fog, my hair fell out like crazy, I was cold all the time and my skin was always dry and itchy, no matter what I did.

Things are much better now, but I still deal with all of those issues to some degree. And on top of it all I have this beautiful little girl that wants to laugh and play and make messes and wake mama up early in the morning. It is often a struggle to keep up with her and have the energy to play and do all the things she wants to do. It's a struggle, but she's my little sweetie and she'll only be young once, so I do the best I can and hope she knows I love her even if I'm too tired to play.

I think back though, to my life 8 years ago, when my low thyroid function was at it's worst and I am terrified that I might ever have that happen again. It makes me despair to think that I could be too tired to get out of bed to make breakfast for my daughter. Or take her to the park. Or to make sure she has clean clothes or any of the other things that go along with being a mother.

You see, fluoride is a thyroid suppressant, it inhibits proper thyroid function, which in turn affects every system in the body. Everything from brain function to hormones and metabolism and fertility, etc. is affected by the little tiny butterfly shaped gland in your neck. Fluoride has even been prescribed to people with overactive thyroid to lower their thyroid function.

Because of fluoride's affect on the thyroid and endocrine systems, both my doctor (a thyroid specialist) and my dentist have warned me away from fluoride. But now there is the possibility that it might be added to our water supply.

How am I supposed to follow doctors orders and maintain my health if it is in our water supply? Do I buy an expensive purification system to get it out of my water? Do I stop eating out because restaurants will be using fluoridated water? Do I stop treating myself to an occasional mocha because the espresso is made with fluoridated water? What about my vegetable garden that I have been so diligent in never using pesticides or herbicides? Do I water it with fluoridation chemicals? Do I shower in fluoridated water? Do I do my dishes in fluoridated water? Do I wash all my clothes in fluoridated water?

That's my story and you may be thinking that it's a shame, but I'm just one person, right?! Did you know that there are between 40-45 thousand people in the area with thyroid problems who will also be negatively affected, admittedly to varying degrees, by adding these chemicals to our water?

For my family and the tens of thousands of other families in Portland who will be affected by this, please Vote NO on #26-151.

Regardless of the studies and what YOU believe, If we are putting it in our water supply it should be beneficial for EVERYONE that will drink the water...if it harms even one person, like the commenter above, it shouldn't be in our water, an essential element of life...get fluoride from your toothpaste, dentist, or the free daily pill offered at all PPS schools for your child...You can't get it out easily or without expensive filters...WHY should we put a drug, regardless of its beneficial intention into something as intrinsic to life as our water..every drop...the garden hose, the bath, the pool, the soup pot, the dog water, the dialysis machine, the latte, the baby bottle, the river.....Every drop...Can any of you really say you have the right to decide that for anyone else, and everyone else? I can't...and I will vote NO on 26-151, for the commenter above, for the parents who don't get the postcard in the mail telling them not to put tap water in their baby's bottle, for the Willamette River, for all of the Tigard, Gresham, lake Oswego, etc. municipalities that buy Portland Water and don't get to vote on this issue. I will vote NO for the one person out there who will not benefit from a drug in their every drop of water...

I will also be voting no. I grew up with fluoride in my drinking water, yet had cavities all my life. I think preventing cavities has much more to do with educating children to brush and floss and to make healthy choices. Fluoride is good for teeth topically, but fluoridating our water is not the way - water is essential for all of us and I don't think we should drug everyone's water to benefit a few when there are other ways.

I will also be voting NO. While none of the research on either side seems conclusive, the fact that there's even a question puts my guard up. Considering the track record of 'safe' chemicals in this country and corporate interests being served in the name of public health, there's no way in hell I'd vote to add yet another chemical to our drinking water.

If you want topical fluoride, more power to you. I feel that fluoride and most of our dental treatment is just a band-aid, anyway. Why is no one in this great debate mentioning the real issue, which is that our packaged, sugar-laden, industrial American diet is the real culprit? Change your diet, eliminate sugar, and you'll see that your teeth are no longer covered in plaque, you don't need to floss and brush and treat with fluoride. I speak from experience. I've lived it. My children live it. I'd rather eat good food and eschew the packaged crap than try and fix my teeth with fluoridated water.

I am a nurse and I work with at-risk teenagers in Portland. It is not uncommon for them to have 10 or more cavities that we work on getting treatment for while they are in our care. It is also not uncommon for them to have decay so bad that teeth need to be pulled. These are their permanent teeth that they will never get back. You see, Medicaid will pay for a root canal but not for a permanent crown.

So you will forgive me when I get upset hearing people say, eat good food and take fluoride only if you want it. It assumes that all children have parents who are able to provide these things for them. This is a public health issue.

Fluoride is not a drug or a medication. In some water systems it is naturally occurring but not in ours. If you are under the impression that we have a "pure" water supply, you might be interested in the story that OPB just did:

Portland, I've been disappointed that you seem have forgotten about our neediest population in this debate.

It is profoundly insulting to those of us who HAVE read the primary literature to insinuate that there is only one conclusion you can come to if you have. Fluoride does NOT prevent all tooth decay, as Kentucky can attest!

Right now, we live in a Fluoridated Oregon community (not my choice). In order for us to opt out, we buy all our water @ .35 cents a gallon. That is 600 dollars a year. We can't install our own RO filter because we are in a rental. We still get dosed whenever we eat @ a restaurant or go into the community @ all. When we bathe or brush our teeth. My husband and I both have degrees and careers in science, we feebly and partially opt out. We have the luxury to do so. Someday we will even purchase land with a well and TRULY opt out. But that is something very few urban residents will ever be able to do.

You can't divorce SCIENCE from HISTORY no matter how many times you file. You can't divorce science from FUNDING either. The ADA is not only backing Fluoride, they are still backing Mercury Fillings in Pregnant women and Children. They are corrupt and if you still believe the CDC is your BFF, well I have to believe then the real history and actions of the CDC are not being wholly considered.

When educated citizens disagree on a water additive, there MUST be a real and viable Opt Out in a democracy. There is a real and viable opt out of Chlorine ingestion. It is called Brita. Fluoride is difficult, expensive and wasteful to filter out. In my Fluoridated OR community, we have RO machines thriving on seriously every corner and at every grocery store. People are buying their water rather than drink Fluoride water.

Finally, 75% of PDX mamas are Formula Feeding by 6 months and the bulk of this formula is purchased by WIC. How is a mother on WIC supposed to afford to buy the low fluoride water that even the ADA recommends? Are you okay with low income children being unable to follow best practices regarding their first foods?

Here is the ADA telling parents to use low Fluoride water to prepare baby bottles in EFF babies, this is the ADA: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/fluorosis.aspx#AZListingModule

Also it is deeply unfair to link to the Portland Mercury and not to Willamette Week. Altho the publisher of Willamette Week is married to a Fluoridation Advocate, their coverage has come much closer to achieving any principle that might be labeled 'journalism' than the aptly named MERCURY.


Willamette Week endorses fluoridation, just like the Portland Mercury and The Oregonian.
They've all reviewed the science, they've all listened to the arguments, and they've all come to the same conclusion. Willamette Week has been extremely critical of the political process, but still concluded that fluoridation is the right thing to do based on science and public health.

Just because something is endorsed by a newspaper doesn't make it good/true.

Eve, I'm responding to Ellen Mary's statement that it is unfair to link to the Mercury's conclusion without linking to Willamette Week. That implies, incorrectly, that Willamette Week came to a different conclusion than the Mercury. But they didn't. Willamette Week endorses fluoridation.

As long as we're on the topic of incorrect implications, follow her link to the ADA recommendation. The ADA doesn't tell parents that they have to mix formula with low fluoride water. They tell them that they *can* do that if they care to avoid an increased chance of barely detectable cosmetic condition (fluorosis, the faint white flecks that can form on unerupted teeth.) And they follow it directly with this statement: "While there is a chance of fluorosis, it is a fact that drinking fluoridated water helps reduce tooth decay for children and adults."

My biggest issue is that I'm being forced to ingest something that I don't want to put in my body. If it were any other scenario where someone is forcing something on another person maybe people would see the issue more clearly. For me, it's neither here nor there as to whether fluoride works. The real issue is that if fluoride is put into the water, I lose my right to decide what I put in my body. For those who want fluoride, go out and buy it and use it the way you want. I know this is a bad analogy but here goes: it's like the abortion issue. Regardless of whether its right or wrong, ppl should have the right to choose what they want to do. I happen to think abortion is inherently wrong, but people should still have the right to decide what they want. Anyway, I can't help but think someone has a bigger unknown agenda out there somewhere.... I have a hard time believing that there are just some innocent do-gooders who want to help all the young children of Portland. Riiiight.


My name is Fern Capella and I am a mother, activist, singer/songwriter, and empath living in Portland, Oregon. I am voting NO to adding hydrofluorosilicic acid to our precious water supply. I do not have the right to force medicate my neighbors, and neither do any of you. I am my son's single mother so I am the ONLY person who gets to make crucial medical decisions pertaining to my son's health and well being. I also do not choose to condescend to our "neediest populations" and think that they are any less capable of parenting their beloved children than I am. I don't want to ingest an industrial waste byproduct, and I don't want my children or my cats or my grandparents to either. If you want to fluoridate your family, have at it. If you have trouble paying for fluoride supplements and you feel they will better your life, talk to me. I will work something out for you, and we as a community can make it work for all who choose to ingest hydrofluorosilicic acid. I don't want to shower in it, I don't want to cook my soups in it, and I don't want to feed my cats it or water my garden with it. I have the right to have the water I have the way it is. You don't have the right to vote a medicine into my water supply. Please enjoy this silly parody musical video my fiance and I made to further enlighten those who have "drunk the fluor-ade" and enjoy this perfect Portland day with your family! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3Wqko_ao-E

In reply to RN: You say that this is a public health issue. I say it is, too. Having access to good food instead of crap is a much bigger public health issue. It goes beyond dental care.

Are you fighting to get HFCS out of our food? GMOs labeled to give people choices (which will ultimately get them off the grocery store shelves)? Supporting local farmers by buying their healthy produce? I am doing that, and more. I am also voting NO to fluoride. These at-risk teens you work with have enough trouble, obviously, with out ingesting yet another chemical. Big picture. Fluoridated water is not going to change much about those teems' lives. A change in diet would. Why not work to get sugar out of every food on the shelf? Did you know that in the 1950s, the FDA was prepared to stick warning labels on sugar, much like the labels on cigarettes today? Then the sugar board stepped in. Now sugar is not harmful. It's like magic!

Not everything the government says is good for us actually is good for us. Fluoridated water is just one more on the list.

I am still waiting to see _any_ argument against fluoride that cites actual, not theoretical, harm. I suppose it hasn't happened because THERE IS NONE. Marked clinical benefit. No scientific data (from a reputable, reasonably-conducted study) against. Offers something highly beneficial that many underprivileged children cannot get any other way. I don't see much to debate here.

*An actual doctor. And clinical researcher.

dr. sam,
what about angel lambart's post above? i don't know angel and i don't have personal experience with thyroid conditions. but, angel says her thyroid specialist (i assume someone with hashimoto's is seeing an actual doctor) and her dentist "warn [her] away from fluoride". i'm not suggesting that fluoride doesn't help prevent decay, but there are many options for supporting dental health. for someone who has medical cause to avoid ingesting fluoride, what are the options if our public water supply is fluoridated? seriously, should she move?

a friend's daughter has congenital hypothyroid. she has taken medication since she was a newborn and will continue to throughout her life. if fluoride impacts thyroid function, i wonder about a mom consuming fluoride consistently while pregnant with a hypothyroid baby.

when talking about proactively medicating an entire population, i need the bar to be higher than no one having proved "actual harm". i need any theoretical harm disproved. for the record, i give my kids fluoride. i just believe that for people like angel we have to make fluoride ingestion optional. fluoridating the water makes it madatory.

> when talking about proactively medicating an entire population,

False. Flouride is not a medication - it is a naturally occurring mineral.

> i need any theoretical harm disproved.

This is definitionally not possible for any choice you have ever made in your life.

i have thought about it, and i continue to. fluoride is a mineral naturally occurring in some water supplies, yes. fluorosilicic acid (what we're voting about putting in portland's water supply) is not the form that occurs naturally in some water supplies. the fluoride i give my kids does require a prescription - so if not medication, it's at least a highly regulated supplement. but fluorosilicic acid isn't the same chemical as that, either. so, maybe it's not accurate to call it medication. certainly also not accurate to call it a naturally occurring mineral in this instance.

and sure, it's impossible to disprove any theoretical harm. i laughed again when i read that myself. i was referencing dr. sam's post above, using his/her words and trying to make the point that we have to set the bar very high for putting anything in our water supply. if we're taking active steps to give medication/supplement or even naturally occurring mineral to EVERYBODY, i do need reasonable theoretical harm disproved. because fluoridated water is impossible to avoid, we have to look at theoretical harm not just to average, healthy people, but to people who have special concerns (like the thyroid problem angel talks about).

i absolutely agree that fluoride isn't harmful to most people in any way we can detect. it's been in use for a long time and i don't think it's a conspiracy. i do think there are people who are hurt by it, though. those people lose the ability to opt out of exposure once it's in the water. given that: i think our efforts to improve dental health must be focused on nutrition, education and accessible dental care. these efforts seed holistic benefits without hurting other vulnerable populations.

Voting No here!

It's not fair to medicate sane folks without their express consent. That's what I feel this would be doing.

Voting yes here, and hoping that the educated community of Portland will do the same. I will trust dentists, doctors and scientists, over a bunch of bad science and elitists. This isn't new. It's not at toxic levels. It's proven to help deter tooth decay. You know the water you drink out of the tap now isn't liquid sunshine, right?

Voting NO here, not enough research either way so why should I just follow the lemmings and make a decision based on "no scientific inquiry" like I had to do when our county decided to not study GMO foods before putting them on the market. Shouldn't we really be demanding that more real science be put behind this rather then fighting one another over opinions and heresay? Why push such a tremendously costly decision through just because its the norm of our country...aren't we Portlanders a bit more savvy then that?

Dr. and mom and kid who grew up with tons of cavities in a fluoridated state.

I just don't understand... even if those of you who think it is good for some or most of the population, if there is a possibility that it can also do harm to some of the population, maybe even some of the non human population, like fish that will have the river fluoride level increase dramatically from the wastewater, (salmon have been known in real studies to stop spawning in fluoridated waters..look it up)..and our pets..where are the studies that show how much they should/shouldn't have?..If there is a question that it may not be good for everyone, every being, all the time, why on earth would we have it in our water supply..should those with hypothyroidism or kidney dialysis just not drink the water?

To the nurse, PPS schools give Fluoride (in pharmaceutical grade rather than industrial no less) to every student free of charge. Dentists on OHP also give treatments with checkups free of charge..so many or even most underserved youth are not without access..

Lastly, it is a naturally occurring element when it is naturally occurring, when it is added artificially, it is a drug. A drug regulated by the FDA. When added it does not naturally come from the rock the river flows through, it comes from the smokestack of a fertilizer or aluminum plant..natural? Not hardly...

Since I can't guarantee that everyone will benefit from this, nor even guarantee that some will not be harmed by it, I cannot ethically vote for it..

Arsenic is also a naturally occurring mineral. So throwing around the words 'natural' doesn't do a lot to sway me in favor of something.

My 9 year old has somewhat streaky teeth that look kinda like the mild fluorosis pics. I haven't really gotten to the bottom of it...we didn't have fluoride water but did do some infant drops, kind of sporadically, use fluoride toothpaste and have done topical treatments....I am suspicious. Anyone? we have no cavities....

Voting yes.

For those of you claiming that there's serious negative health effects or even just that the research is inconclusive: bullshit.
There have been plenty of independant, peer reviewed studies documenting the effects of flouride. At high levels, yes, there can be some bad effects, like the thyroid problems mentioned above. At levels that Portland is proposing to add? Not risky at all, even if you're drinking a gallon of tap water a day.
Don't get suckered by alarmist propoganda, read the research yourself.

i didn't hear anyone in this forum claiming fluoride causing thyroid problems, just that for those with thyroid problems, fluoride should be avoided. just to clarify.

Voting YES.

Portland is not the only place in the US with people with thyroid problems or kidney issues. In fact over 65% of the US population is currently receiving fluoride in their water and people with thyroid problems are dealing the fluoride, like my mom. I have yet seen any results showing that these people are currently faring worst then people in Portland. Same goes for the IQ issue. Portland children to do not have higher IQs then Seattle, NYC, Washington, Chicago, Beaverton, etc. because they have not had fluoride in their water. These are scare tactics of people against one of the greatest, proven public health measures of our time.

Voting yes. Fluoride is a public health issue and a social justice issue. My kids are in Head Start, a Federally-funded program for low-income families. The open, bleeding, painful tooth decay I see in kids in their classes every day is terrible.

I'm all for public health campaigns to improve access to quality food and dental care for poor people, but… none of those measures are on the ballot right now, none of them are proven effective in the way fluoridation is, and there is not even a hypothetical dental care or healthy food proposal that could be implemented for less than the cost of water fluoridation. If you want to work for improved access to quality food and dental care, that's awesome -- go out and gather signatures and get it on the ballot, and I'll support that too.

In the mean time, I'm voting for fluoridation.

The No campaign has seriously and shamefully distorted the science in an attempt to win an election.

curious, what does the anti campaign have to gain from "winning this election"? I don't know them, but they aren't making money, they aren't a permanent group, nor fixed to gain anything from their efforts save unfluoridated water, which they obviously feel strongly about for some reason...are they really a bunch of bad guys, do they really not care about kids' teeth? that seems a little silly.....they came together for the purpose of keeping fluoride out of the water...why sway things just to win an election? what gain in "shamefully distorting science" ? that doesn't make sense! Its not like they get to hold office or win a prize or something...Why would so many people in PDX be against fluoride if it was really such a simple issue, did that group just come out of no where to be a thorn in the pro fluoride side for no reason? most people wouldn't waste their precious time that way..they must be concerned for some reason...

also interesting that hypothyroidism affects 65% of the population, and roughly 70% of the U.S. drinking water is fluoridated...I wonder how the numbers line up, and still even if not, should those folks just not drink the water? No one has still answered that question...

Amen to Fern Capella whoever you are..well put..you don't have the right to decide what goes into your neighbor's water, and neither do your neighbors...if the measure passed, that means all the people who vote no no longer have a choice about their water supply, while if it doesn't pass those who want fluoride can still get it from other sources...
Still not hearing any pro people justify without anger or blame to the other side an intelligent reason why they think they have the right to add fluoride to ALL the water we all have access to and pay for....

Yes we add other substances to the water, chlorine and chloramine are also toxic, which is why many folks choose filtered water, but it is easy to filter out with a simple carbon filter..fluoride is not easy or inexpensive to filter out, and it is not used to kill parasites and bacteria in the drinking water, it is a pharmaceutical drug used to medicate the water for a health purpose..it says so on the ballot statement...

Can any of us really say, or could you swear an oath that you KNOW it will have no consequence?

lots to think about...it will alter our water and waste water forever..so think hard!

Jo--I am completely unable to believe that 65% of the US population has hypothyroid conditions. Can you give a source for that?

Fluoride is a pharmaceutical drug in the same way that folic acid is--a nutrient or mineral that can be used by our bodies to promote healthy growth and prevent problems. Folic acid is added to all cereals, flours, breads, crackers, etc. By law.

Voting no. If it's not necessary to keep our water supply clean and healthy, it shouldn't be added to our water. Period.

@J because she obviously made it up! Hypothyroidism affects 4.6% of the US population, aged 12 and over. Or at least that's what the US Department of Heath and Human Services says.

Also, absolutely voting yes. And sorry, but most of the arguments against on here are just parroting the conspiracy theory freaks.

Jo, greed is not the only thing that motivates people. Fear is another one of many powerful human motivators. And the thing about fear is that it can really mess up your ability to reason.

@J - but people still have the choice to buy those things. People won't have the choice whether to ingest the fluoride in the water.

I voted no. I did so not because of the studies (which I think have been grossly misrepresented - it takes a heck of a lot more fluoride to poison someone than the levels they are talking about).

I voted no because:

* With any financial decision, I look at what priorities are. I don't think that the city should be spending money and effort on this when we can't even support a full school day for our children in safe/healthy buildings.

* While I agree that fluoride is a good thing, I also know that everyone had access at my child's former PPS district school. So - it's already available in a way that doesn't impact everyone's choice.

* Many of the communities affected don't get to vote. So, either they'll have to pay more for it without having the option to vote for it, or the slack will have to be picked up by the rest of us through increased water rates, which will already be increasing under the new proposed budget.

no thanks.

Totally voting yes. Totally. I love good science, good public health decisions and listening to nearly every organization serving people of color in this city, which have endorsed this. Not so into unfounded conspiracy theories and fear tactics.

KT, just because someone doesn't want a bi-product of fertilizer production put in their water doesn't mean they believe in conspiracy theories or fear tactics. Do you think the Europeans are all idiots who don't understand science? Most EU countries don't add fluoride.

Some of us actually have a brain and we have done our research and we don't believe that something that could cause harm should be added to our water. If you believe in the benefits or fluoride, consume it, brush with it, paint it on your teeth or your kids' teeth. But, let us all make our own decisions for ourselves and our families. I believe in organic food and exercise but I'm not going to force it on you or anyone else. And don't assume that poor people can't make good choices for their children!

I'm voting NO and I hope any of you who care about personal choice will do so as well!

There are some European communities that fluoridate water, but in general Europeans who don't live in optimally fluoridated areas tend to get their supplemental fluoride in salt and milk - like iodine and Vitamin D for us.

Most European countries also have universal health care and far lower poverty rates. If we had comparable conditions, that would be something else. Until then, I believe in public health for the public good. Scare tactics, not so much.

Regarding poverty and choices, I hope everyone gets a chance to read this:

Love this blog post and that you took the time to do your own research. This is absolutely a matter of social justice. 65 years and over 3,000 studies have proven water fluoridation is safe, effective and affordable. "Keep Portland Weird" should not mean "Keep Portland Toothless". I truly hope Portland joins every single other major city in the United States and votes YES on 25-151!

Oh for all you of you anti-fluoridians, Willamette Week has an excellent article about the background of your movement. http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-20611-you_can%E2%80%99t_handle_the_tooth.html

You're funded and started by the Koch Family and used to view Polio Vaccines and Mental Health in the same vein. There's some excellent debunking in this piece, as well.

Thank you for a wonderfully well-thought out approach.
And for those of you who keep repeating the 'by-product of the fertilizer industry' the fluoride used in community water fluoridation is produced by acid treatment of phosphorite rock. It is not a by-product any more than is the phosphoric acid --which also comes from that process-- that you drink in pepsi or coke or many other carbonated drinks.

dr. ginny feldman

I voted YES for public health and social justice. 1) dental care is expensive and finding a dentist who takes medicaid can be extremely difficult if not impossible; 2) Flouride supplements in school don't start until 4 or 5 years of age and even then aren't available year round (summer, winter break, etc); 3) Getting flouride through PPS requires parents to opt IN, meaning many kids who would benefit aren't participating in the program.

The fact is that there are so many chemicals once thought safe that are now poisoning us, and that we'll never get rid of. With the toxic load we all carry now, why make it any worse? If there is even a remote possibility that fluoride is harmful in the drinking water, why take a chance with our children? I don't understand how any caring parent can accept the risk. I vote NO!


That was a great National Geographic article. I read every page. A really thorough discussion of a whole host of things found in the blood of the author. But even though the author and the doctor (a pediatrician who specializes in environmental health) tested for and talked about all kinds of concern-causing compounds, fluoride wasn't even mentioned once.

Wow..."any caring parent?" The thing is, I'm completely happy to give my very much loved and cared-for children fluoride, just as I'm happy to provide them with other health care/support that has been scientifically proven to be thoroughly beneficial for their health. The amounts to be provided in the water are just that.

I am voting YES. I am annoyed by the fact that the Clean Water campaign is largely underwritten by out-of-state interest groups. In comparison, Healthy Kids is being supported by many public and dental health associations that work to improve health and access to health care. Equally annoyed that somehow fluoride has pushed folks to become anti-fluoride activists. Really? There aren't more significant issues out there? Only in Portland I suppose. Portland/Oregon how you've disappointed me lately: no equal marriage act, no marijuana legislation, and potentially no fluoride. Are we turning into a tea party state? Use common sense people. What next? Ban apple seeds because it contains cyanide?

A recent KATU poll sheds some interesting light on this highly contentious issue.

"When you break down the votes by race, there's a huge difference. Forty-two percent of white voters say they’d vote yes, but only 30 percent of black and Asian voters agree.

What’s more, 9 percent of Hispanic voters support fluoridation (72 percent said no.)

People have different views on fluoride depending on what part of the city they live, as well. Southwest Portland saw the greatest number of fluoride supporters, with 59 percent who say they’d support it. Compare that percentage to North Portland, where only 30 percent of voters said they’d vote yes."

Many argue that this is a public health and social justice issue--that low-income and minority residents would benefit most since they are disproportionately affected by dental health problems and limited access to dental care. Interesting that it *appears* those populations represent the strongest opposition.


Hau...your comment totally made my day.

@KT, you beat me to it, Hau great post!

@anon - KATU has repeatedly demonstrated their anti-fluoride bias. Since I very much doubt they're on the empathy/hippie end of the spectrum (and generally pretty critical of our president), I'm gonna guess that they're speaking form the John Birch side of things. NOT a good source for supporting arguments.

I vote yes. I don't believe in conspiracies, but I do believe in,public health and solid, peer reviewed published literature.

I hope Portland votes for Science over fear. When every single respected health and science organization endorses a practice as important, then we should take notice. Not only the health community, but fluoridation also appears to be endorsed by President Obama, the Governor, all City Commissioners, all County Commissioners, all local newspapers and the bulk of the local social justice organizations. I hope Portland, the city I love, sees past all this junk science and votes for a measure that has shown to have tremendous benefit for our teeth.

Hey, remember when everyone was anti-vaccine...oh yeah. Fun times.

Well that was one of the other things the original John Birchers were against, specifically the POLIO vaccine. Cause who wouldn't want a dead or paralyzed kid?

YEA, Portland Rocks. NO fluoride!!! AGAIN!

You know what's less attractive than bad teeth? Gloating. Yes, fear beats reason yet again. And as usual, it's the most vulnerable who pay the price. We should all be very proud.

I certainly don't think this issue is over...Portland's children deserve better than what this election gave them..

I love Portland and I'm so happy I won't have this junk in my water.

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