Mayor Charlie Hales expressed his disappointment in a statement. “The measure lost despite my own ‘yes’ vote.That’s sure disappointing, but I accept the will of the voters.”
Portland voters first turned down fluoridation when the process began in the 1950?s, and again during the 1960?s. It was briefly approved in 1978, however that plan was overturned two years later, before any fluoride was ever added to the water.
After rumors of backroom deals between the City Council and fluoridation supporters emerged, clean water activists sprung to action. In response to last years city council vote to begin fluoridating water serving 900,000 citizens, protestors organized efforts to bring the issue to the public for a vote. After gathering over 40,000 signatures the measure was brought forth.
The issue also wound up politicizing a statewide health report that showed falling cavity and tooth decay rates in the state over the past five years. One of the report’s authors said she felt pressure by Upstream Health, the group spearheading fluoridation efforts, to present the findings in a certain way.
Oregon Live covered the details of the report:
“The percentage of children who already had a cavity fell from 64 to 52 statewide, according to the survey. That represents a drop of nearly one-fifth.
The percentage of children with untreated decay also declined from 36 to 20 statewide, the survey found. That’s down by nearly half.
And the other major measure, rampant decay — which is defined as seven treated or untreated cavities — fell from 20 percent to 14 percent statewide. That’s down by about one-third. “
With this latest rejection Portland becomes the largest city in the United States that does not add fluoride to the water. Speaking to the Portland Tribune, Kim Kaminski, leader of Clean Water Portland said, “At a very fundamental level, people understand that we don’t want more chemicals in our water.”
This year marks the 68th anniversary of fluoridation – the first U.S. city to adjust the fluoride levels in its water supply was Grand Rapids, Mich. on January 25, 1945, according to the American Dental Association.
Despite the fact that most mainstream health organizations, including the American Medical Association, endorse fluoridation over 200 communities have rejected the practice in recent years. Opponents of fluoridation in Portland worry by adding fluoride to the water it will ruin the city’s famously pristine water supply, as well as violate an individuals civil liberties, by forced medicating through the water.
Portlands stance against water fluoridation has become an attacking point for many publications around the country. Accusations of being anti-science, or a conspiracy theorist abound for those opposing the controversial practice.
Despite a recent Salon article that claims the Fluoride Free movement is “Without a study to stand on” there are a number of studies that show a variety of health concerns . The article also states, “The (fluoride) ion occurs naturally in ground water in varying levels, some that are in fact too high.” While this claim is true it is also misleading.
When a city chooses to add “fluoride” to the water supply they are actually adding the toxic substance hydrofluorosilic acid. Hydrofluorsilic acid is a by-product of phosphate mining, and if not for cities purchasing the substance for millions of dollars, it would have to be disposed of at a heft cost to the producer.
The history books are filled with examples of medical and scientific practices that were seen as safe at one point only to be demonized later. The early critics of any common practice are often ridiculed until new evidence creates a shift in understanding and future practices. When it comes to water fluoridation we are dealing with a similar situation.
For more information on the dangers of water fluoridation and how you can get involved please check out the Fluoride Action Network. (www.fluoridealert.org)
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