Say No to Fluoride

Jenson Hagen

The decision to inject fluoride into our drinking water bothers me to no end. I always appreciated the fact that Portland resisted this practice, mainly because I would rather avoid any potential long-term consequence of ingesting additional fluoride.

Many will give reason for and against fluoridation, but the one conversation that receives little attention is feeding children endless amounts of junk food. Nothing else is worse for kids' teeth than allowing bacteria to feed on simple sugars, which are now found in everything they eat. We would have no reason to fluoridate water if children ate a more nutritious diet.

We have advanced enough to pump fluoride into an entire city's drinking supply, but we can't get our brain's around how to feed kids food that won't cause their teeth to rot. And so as I walk through grocery stores or flip the radio on in my car, I hear advertisements about the need to combat childhood obesity. Does it strike anyone that the potential solution to rotting teeth and oversized waistlines is to exercise restraint and governance over what children consume.

Thankfully, I grew up in a household that focused on healthy choices. For me, junk food was a rare occassion, but I know how other families eat. Their cupboards are full of sugary cereals, sugary snacks, sugary drinks, sugary processed meals, and you get my point. Don't think for one second that evaporated cane juice and agave nectar are somehow better than high fructose corn syrup because the research says they are not. Thus, we have a health epidemic where the solution does not need to be weight-loss pills and fluoridation.

I voted to get the issue put on the ballot where I will gladly vote NO to fluoridation. I hope the next ballot measure we sees deals with the food content in our schools. Feed kids a nutritive diet, not fluoride.


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      The Linus Pauling Institute wrote an amazing overview of fluoride. True, it reduces cavities (caries). But there are consequences to our GI Tract that would be hard to research, i.e., low-level irritation.

      It's important to note the food sources of fluoride. Providing children with a well-balanced diet will provide them with micronutrients, including fluoride.

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      Good nutrition is a wonderful idea...and make it affordable. People in poverty do not always make nutritious choices due to finances..Fluoride has been shown in studies to cause problems..including learning disabilities...even China does not put fluoride in their water...that's pretty low on the totem pole if you ask me..yet we still do...The bottom line...People in Portland should have a choice..not a mandate from lobbyists who have somehow convinced Sam and Randy that they need to do this. I have to wonder if there is not some selfish, monetary, career after mayordom reason that Sam pushed this through, knowing how people have voted it down time and time again...What is Sam up to, now that he is out of a job?

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      Would that be the same federal agency that told us that the US blood supply was perfectly safe in the 80's?

      Tell that to the thousand's of hemophiliacs and their family members that died.

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      I like how so many people like your reply. Now I know why we went to war in Iraq. Yes, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Yes, home prices will increase forever. Yes, it's completely safe to put fluoride in our water.

      Actually, there is research saying that it does pose a risk to some populations but research goes way over the head of ditto heads.

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      Jay Harris Levy, DDS

      Argument Against Portland Fluoridation

      • 35% of Oregon children have untreated tooth decay, ranking Oregon fifth from last among all states according to the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention. o True, but according to the 2007 Oregon Smile Survey, the percentage of children with untreated tooth decay in the Portland metropolitan area was only 21% well below the national average of 29% which includes fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas. o Unfortunately, the percentage of children with untreated tooth decay in the rest of Oregon was a whopping 44%, far above the national average. This statistic highlights the problems in our state with poverty and limited access to dental care in rural areas. • The benefits of fluoridation of the public water system in the prevention of dental disease has been scientifically substantiated with over 65 years of experience. o In 1999 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conceded that Fluoride’s predominant mechanism of action was topical not systemic.

      “Fluoride’s caries-preventive properties initially were attributed to changes in enamel during tooth development because of the association between fluoride and cosmetic changes in enamel and a belief that fluoride incorporated into enamel during tooth development would result in a more acid-resistant mineral. However, laboratory and epidemiologic research suggests that fluoride prevents dental caries predominately after eruption of the tooth into the mouth, and its actions primarily are topical for both adults and children.” (CDC: MMWR. October 22, 1999 / Vol. 48 / No. 4) o There has never been a study involving randomized clinical trials to support the safety and effectiveness of fluoride. According to the “York Review” a Systematic Review of existing literature on Fluoride performed in 2000:

      “This review presents a summary of the best available and most reliable evidence on the safety and efficacy of water fluoridation. Given the level of interest surrounding the issue of public water fluoridation, it is surprising to find that little high quality research has been undertaken. As such, this review should provide both researchers and commissioners of research with an overview of the methodological limitations of previous research conducted in this area. The evidence of a benefit of a reduction in caries should be considered together with the increased prevalence of dental fluorosis. The research evidence is of insufficient quality to allow confident statements about other potential harms or whether there is an impact on social inequalities. ... Any future research into the safety and efficacy of water fluoridation should be carried out with appropriate methodology to improve the quality of the existing evidence base.”
      (McDonaugh MS, Whiting PF, Wilson PM, et al., “Systemic Review of Water Fluoridation,” British Medical Journal 321, no 7265 (2000).)

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      A lack of fluoride does not cause cavities.

      Poverty equals cavities.

      Poor dental habits equal cavities.

      Better nutrition and education will equal better dental health.

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      So no one from Portland has good teeth?

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      That's misleading anecdotal evidence. My 27 year old daughter has never had fluoridated water and never had a cavity.

      Results will vary.

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          Adding fluoride to the water is not making the water safe, it's adding a drug to the water to treat a medical condition.

          That's an important distinction that appears to be lost on supporters of fluoridation.

          Does it make sense to add a drug to everyone's drinking water for a health concern for part of the population?

          Does it make sense to deliver a drug in a manner that provides no control over the dosage delivered?

          Does it make sense to require those who wish to avoid fluoride to buy bottled water?

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        And by the way, a cost/benefit analysis is not the same as a comprehensive risk analysis. I'm not sure why a city that has the precautionary principle enshrined into law skips over even considering broad environmental and population system effects -- and on this, there is plenty of studying to be done -- and instead starts immediately talking about cost.

        Has anyone even asked if it bioaccumulates in our local flora and fauna? (Just look up "fluoride bioaccumulation" on Google Scholar). Does anyone care? Or are we going to make only the arguments and answer the only the questions that can get our measure passed as quickly as possible? Scientific... pffff... cherry picking and confirmatory evidence abound.

        There's so much we don't know on this issue. Stop pretending we know things we haven't even studied yet.

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        Why commission a study to re-discover what has been found scientically sound over and over again? Should the City perform tests to see if gravity still works when making code on necessary fall protection in buildings?

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          You think gravity and fluoridation are on equal ground? Seriously? Hyperbole or science - choose now.

          Why do people claiming science on their side continue to speak in certainties? I know that pro-fluoridation folks are claiming science as an authority and there clearly are scientific bodies in support, but if you actually read the studies instead of the press releases, there's a lot less certainty and more qualification about well, pretty much everything. In addition, we are speaking in terms of evidence and lack thereof. If you haven't studied something -- i.e. fluoride on our natural environment -- how could you have evidence about it? And why would do that? Oh, I dunno, because we care about ourselves and our environment? Seriously, think.

          You always re-check hypotheses. THAT'S WHAT SCIENCE IS. It's a continuous process. Systems sciences are complicated. Anyone pretending to "know" anything for certain are full of it.

          How fluoride effects the human and natural environment is not as simple as throwing a ball up and down over and over. Anyone who would claim so demonstrates a serious ignorance about the chemical nature of life and the history of environmental disruptions caused by humans who "knew" what they were doing.

          Science isn't a bludgeon you use to smite your enemies. It's a process that is supposed to be skeptical. If you were serious about the methodology, you'd be honest that there is a lot of nuance involved and things that we know we don't know.

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    If not adding fluoride to water encouraged better diets, wouldn't we see that by now? You're trying to claim that things will change if we keep everything the same. That makes no sense.

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      Lots of things need to change, but adding fluoride is not one of them.

      Fluoride WON'T brush your teeth for you.

      Fluoride WON'T floss your teeth for you.

      Fluoride WON'T take the sugar or other crap out of your diet.

      Fluoride WON'T fill in the gaping nutritional holes in many childrens bodies.

      Fluoride WILL be harmful to people with kidney problems.

      Fluoride WILL be harmful to people with thyroid problems.

      Fluoride WILL be harmful to people with chemical sensitivites.

      Better to be safe than sorry.

      Swish, don't swallow!

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    ...imagine the good of both better diets and fluoridated water!

    This is the part that kills me about this whole 'debate'. You can go into any supermarket and buy a range of fluoridated waters. Some from the Swiss Alps, some from more local springs. People tout the natural goodness of their well water... But having the city provide that same benefit for the rest of us? Oh, that's obviously the city out to poison us... because they hate us.. or something.

    Let's examine your argument a moment, Jenson. Would you support a city-wide mandate that reduced the amount of sugars and high-fructose corn syrups in products marketed for kids? Maybe a complete ban and replacement with Xylotol, which although less sweet and more expensive, seems to actively retard decay-causing bacteria?

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      Yes Nys,

      The pro-fluoridists will pat themselves on the back once we start dumping fluoride into our water supply thinking they've reduced cavities by 50%. So kids will only have 2 rotting teeth instead of 4! Hurrah!!!

      I will happily remind them that we have a chance to reduce 100% of rotting teeth through ensuring kids eat properly, take care of their teeth, and have access to dentist. But this would take too much effort to implement for the pro-fluoridists. It's much easier to dump fluoride in our water supply and call it a day.

      We do nothing here to address the cause of rotting teeth. We have merely patched a leak. We see that this problem is much larger than teeth. It's coiled together with childhood obesity, depression, fatigue, and so many other health conditions kids and adult face. We don't eat right and we don't ALL have access to healthcare providers.

      Let's not address these larger problems. Let's just dump fluoride in our water.

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          The FDA lists fluoride as an "unapproved drug". I do not consent to being drugged by the water bureau.

          If you can't see that this is a civil rights issue then you aren't paying attention.

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          Billy Budd-Do you even live in Portland or are you just some traveling talking head? If you believe so strongly in what you preach then you shouldn't have any trouble admitting who you really are... We're all real people here. Either be real, too or go away!

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          Fluoridation is highly effective in preventing the operations necessary for preschoolers with mouth fulls of cavities.

          Not true.

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      But that same all powerful dental lobby wants fluoride in our water in order to make LESS money filling cavities.

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    What right do we have to change the water at all? Have we forgotten the millions of organisms that inhabit this Earth that do not have teeth? Those demanding fluoride do so out of some misguided humanist view that we are some divine legend who may alter the land and sea however they see fit. I want our elected representatives to have a biocentric view of our place in the world. Humans are not the most important thing, and we should respect the planet that supports us according.

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      Huh? I'm not sure what you are trying to say.

      Are you aware that the fluoride concentration of the ocean is naturally twice the level of optimally-fluoridated drinking water. Plus, the only substance that is really harmful to other life is the chlorine that we add to the water, but it's important that we don't have micro-organisms in our drinking water.

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        We're not talking about fluoridating the ocean, Mel! We're talking about fluoridating our drinking water, but since you brought it up...the ocean has salt in it, which negates the harmful effects of fluoride on ocean life.

        When fluoride is introduced into fresh water, it will harm the fish and other creatures that live there. What are you going to say when all the salmon are gone because they can't spawn when they are exposed to fluoride?

        But again the main argument against fluoridation is that we do not consent to being drugged by the water bureau.

        This is a CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE!

        The City Council, the City, the Water Bureau, none of them have a right to force medication on me or my family.

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    I'm not as concerned, frankly, about whether or not to flouridate the water as I am over two other points in this issue:

    1. The Council knew people were concerned about this and that there was going to be a vote on this in May 2014. So they moved up the deadline to add the flouride to March 2014. Why not allow people to vote on this? Then, win or lose, both sides can say they had a voice.

    2. For that reason, I wanted to sign the petition to put this on the ballot in 2014; however, I was told I was ineligible since I live in Gresham, not Portland. Despite the fact that my water is contracted through Portland and this issue will affect me. So, even if there is a vote, I have no voice.

    People losing their voice, through deadline manipulation or voting restrictions, concerns me more than whether or not flouride is in my water.

    And FYI, I grew up with flouride in my water and in a healthy eating household. Still got plenty of cavities. Does flouride help prevent cavaties? Sure. Is it the miracle cure for cavaties that some in the pro-flouride crowd are claiming? No. Given the opportunity to vote on this issue, I'm not sure how I would vote. But it's irrelevant as I'll never get the opportunity.

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        This is what's called fear mongering, Billy Budd! What about the folks with the kidney problems or the folks with thyroid problems or the people who are allergic to fluoride?

        What about the poor, minority family who has a five year old with kidney problems, but can't afford to buy a filter to get the fluoride out of their water? Is it okay to subject that family to potentially life threatening medical issues?

        You are making this an us against them issue. You are saying that anyone who wants to stand up for their own civil rights doesn't care about kids dental health. This simply is a LIE, that you are spreading to make people feel like if they aren't pro-fluoride, they hate poor kids.

        Why don't you take your concern for the poor kids and put your time into starting a program that would promote better dental hygiene in young kids?! How about get the schools to start having kids brush their teeth after they get back from lunch? How about start a program that would actually help the problem instead of one that, at best, is a band-aid on a broken leg.

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      We did allow people to vote on this. It was called an election for city council members. People voted for the persons they thought would best represent them. We can't have a vote on every single issue or democracy gets even further clogged to the point of not working.

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        Are you new in town, or have you just not been paying attention? Yes Devin, people HAVE been allowed to "vote on this" before, and have voted three times against it. This issue, specifically.

        It may be forgiveable that you haven't paid attention to city history, but the City Council clearly had no reason to believe this was something that constituents wanted. Could opinions have changed since the last time Portlanders voted NO to fluoride? Only one way to find out: Ask them!

        Please make sure you sign the referendum petition, so we will ALL have the opportunity to voice our opinions on this issue. It is clearly too important for 5 politicians to decide alone (with or without the gracious help of a team of paid lobbyists).

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          Eric, When I moved here has nothing to do with my ability to discuss fluoridation of the water.
          Without intentionally trying to sound flippant, why do past referenda make a difference? This is how sausage gets made, sometimes. Let's flip the script to something we're probably all in agreement about: the rights of gays to get married. New Yorkers voted down gay marriage in 2009. In 2011 the Leg there passed gay marriage. Should it have gone to referendum again? Yes, apples and oranges (a fundamental right v. fluoride in the water). But, where do we draw the line on "but we voted that down before?" If you don't like the result, vote the bums out or pass a referendum.

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        Devin, I didn't vote for that city council as I don't live in Portland. Gresham contracts with Portland for our water. Portland didn't tell any of the surrounding cities that get their water from Portland what they were doing until it was a done deal. And this IS worth voting on, as evidenced by how many people on both sides of the issue have strong feelings on it. A referendum after the fact will be too late. The money will have been spent to add the flouride by tgd time we can vote on it. And by we I mean those who did elect the councilors who are running roughshod over so many people's concerns.

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      "The City Council voted unanimously for CWF because both the science and the humanitarian arguments were so clearly made by the large group of medical, dental, public health and Civil Rights advocates in the Everyone Deserves Health Teeth Coalition."

      Yes, and luckily the appearance of impropriety was avoided... oh wait...

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      Almost every public water supply source in Kentucky is fluoridated yet, juvenile tooth decay runs rampant. The problem lies in proper oral hygiene, not fuoridating the water supply. Once again some folks choose the sledgehammer approach when a more focused strategy would yield better, more cost effective results.

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      "I will almost always support government intervention in areas of providing and promoting public health, and fluoridation is no exception." And you would have been on the side of some horrific interventions in the past -- probably championing the wide application of DDT because it was considered "safe and effective." Sterilization? Scientifically necessary for the good of the species! Mother's milk? Bad for the child, use formula. Etc., etc., etc.

      Believe it or not, there are skeptics on fluoride who aren't anti-science. Some of them even study, practice, and teach science. Since conclusions based on scientific evidence depart from the empirical component -- we move from direct evidence to broader narratives (stories in other words) -- there is plenty of room for disagreement over which story is correct.

      Because someone disagrees with your conclusions -- which likely weren't reached by science; probably deference to other people you trust to perform science -- they aren't necessarily anti-science. One can actually be pro-vaccine, pro precaution on climate science, and skeptical on fluoride.

      "Anti-science" and "conspiracy theorists" may describe some people, but it's not adequate to dismiss principled criticism and calls for more study before we introduce an industrial waste component into our environment.

      Precautionary Principle Please.

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      A guilt by association argument and an anecdote. Thanks for adding to the quality of public discourse you're so worried about.

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    I am surprised at the uninformed opinions expressed here by people who think they are being progressive in voicing anti-science and anti-medical views. There is general consensus in the medical community that fluoridation is valuable in preventing cavities and has no untoward effects. Look at all the communities nationwide who are fluoridated. Are they suffering?

    The same arguments being used here against fluoridation are those used against vaccinations. These "no" people would like us to go back to the 19th century. Wake up all you progressives!

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