Fluoride Action Network

Portland Uses Science & Integrity to Defeat Fluoridation

portland_victory_photo
Fluoride Action Network | Press Release | May 21, 2013

Portland, Oregon — A broad coalition of Portlanders have resoundingly rejected adding fluoridation chemicals to the city’s water supply.  By a 61%  to 39% margin, Portland voters agreed with the positon of most western nations that there are safer, more effective, and less intrusive ways to promote oral health than adding a chemical linked to thyroid disease, IQ loss, and other ailments to the water supply.

“We are proud of our Portland colleagues who used science and integrity to defeat fluoridation and the public relations blitzkrieg that backed it,” says Paul Connett, PhD, FAN’s Executive Director.

Portland’s clean water campaign was spearheaded by Clean Water Portland (CWP), a broad coalition formed in August 2012 after a newspaper revealed secret ongoing fluoridation meetings with Portland City Council members that were illegally kept off the record. With virtually no public input, the City Council mandated fluoridation for the city on September 12. CWP then led an unprecedented effort that gathered over 40,000 signatures in less than 30 days to halt the mandate and force the referendum vote.

portland_coalition

Clean Water Portland – Photo by Mark Colman

Fluoride chemicals are the only chemicals added to public water for the purpose of medication. Most western countries, including the vast majority of Europe, do not fluoridate their water.

“Most of Portland’s media falsely reported that fluoridation promoters had science on their side and that opponents used emotion,” says Connett.

“Those opposed did their homework, relying on recent scientific findings from the National Research Council (NRC) and Harvard that raise serious questions about the safety of current fluoride exposures.”

In 2006, the NRC warned that current fluoride exposures in the US may increase the risk of thyroid disease, endocrine disruption, neurological disorders, and bone damage – particularly among people who have medical conditions that increase their vulnerability to fluoride.  The NRC called on scientists to investigate fluoride’s role in chronic disease, but government health authorities have opted against funding this research.

portland01

Photo by Mark Colman

Portland’s vote comes just six months after voters in Wichita, Kansas soundly rejected fluoridation by a 20% margin, and follows close on the heels of an announcement this April that Israel will be ending its mandatory fluoridation program. In Ireland, legislation was proposed this spring that would make it a criminal offense to add fluoride to public water supplies, and in Canada, the number of people drinking fluoridated water has dropped by about 25% since 2008.

“The 21st century does not take well to anachronistic medical practices, and fluoridation is no exception.  This is why more than 120 communities have rejected fluoridation over the past 3 years alone,” says FAN’s Campaign Director, Stuart Cooper. “The trend is towards less fluoridation, not more.”

Photo by Mark Colman

Photo by Mark Colman

In Portland, opposition to fluoridation included the regional Sierra Club, the Portland branch of the NAACP, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality employees union, and more than 200 local medical professionals. National leaders also weighed in, including Ralph Nader, Lois Gibbs, John Stauber, Food and Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, and esteemed scientists Drs. Theo Colborn, William Hirzy and two members of the NRC’s review.

cliff_walkerThe breadth of the coalition was reflected in polling data showing bipartisan opposition to fluoridation among democrats, republicans, and independents alike, and overwhelming opposition among communities of color.

Voters who rejected fluoridation were concerned by research showing low-income communities to be at highest risk of fluoride’s adverse effects with virtualy no offsetting benefit. This fact was not lost on Portland’s low-income neighborhoods, which voted overwhelmingly against fluoridation.

Fluoridation proponents had a massive war chest, raising almost $1 million. They used their nearly 4-to-1 funding advantage and media clout to flood Portland with misleading ads and editorials touting fluoridation as an urgently needed tool for solving the “dental crisis” in the city’s poor neighborhoods.

But there really wasn’t a dental crisis in Portland as the Oregon Department of Health’s own reports indicate. Fluoridationists tried to hide this inconvenient truth, pressuring state officials to not publicize new Smile Survey data showing Portland children’s decay rates have improved without fluoridation and, in fact, are better than most fluoridated cites.

“Fluoridationists had no evidence that any Portland child was fluoride-deficient; but did prove that some Portland children are dentist-deficient.  We urge the legalization of dental therapists in Oregon who will treat the low-income children who dentists refuse to treat,” says Connett.

portland_child

Photos & Videos from portlanders:

Some of the National Leaders Who Supported Clean Water Portland

Examples of Misleading Pro-Fluoride PR: