Since the early 1970s, the city of Silverton has added fluoride to its drinking water.
But a group of local residents, led by Clint Simmons of Silverton, are not happy with the practice and would like to put a stop to it.
Simmons said he was drawn to the issue after watching voters in Portland debate fluoridation last year.
“I used to think it’s just conspiracy based,” Simmons said. “I started looking into it and I found there is a lot data that supports not putting it in the water.”
Water fluoridation is a controversial and multi-faceted issue and Simmons hopes to promote thoughtful, intelligent, and fact-based conversation on the subject.
Chief among the arguments against fluoridation is forcing medicine on people without their consent.
Another thought is that is it impossible to control the dose each person receives because people drink different amounts of water. Manual laborers, athletes, diabetics, and people with kidney disease drink substantially more water than others.
Simmons cites studies, including data from the World Health Organization, that questions the effectiveness of flouridation; one key argument is that the same decrease in tooth decay is happening all over the world whether the water is fluoridated or not.
The website Fluoridealert.org lists several serious health risks thought to be related to water fluoridation such as bone cancer, kidney function issues and even lower IQ levels.
“People don’t understand it is a longterm problem,” Simmons said. “It’s like eating a cheeseburger. If you eat them every day of your life you are going to have longterm health problems.”
Simmons said drinking water isn’t the only place people receive fluoride.
Exposure to non-water sources of fluoride has significantly increased in the past 100 years. More foods and beverages are processed with fluoridated water and there are myriad choices of dental products with fluoride.
Backers of fluoridation say it is an effective and affordable way to improve the health of children, especially those with a low household income whose parents don’t stress proper nutrition and dental hygiene.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges fluoridation for the prevention of tooth decay in children and adults.
Simmons has taken the matter to the Silverton City Council meetings in July and August, but said he was not encouraged by the council response.
“I offered a lot of information to the council based on 100 percent solid facts and science, but hey, a doctor or two said ‘it’s good!’ so all of that goes out the window,” Simmons said.
At the Aug. 4 meting of the Silverton City Council, Councilor Jason Freilinger said he could not “in good conscience” vote fluoride out of the water.
Representatives from the city of Silverton did not return calls before press time.
A ballot measure that would have allowed the city of Portland to add fluoride to its drinking water was defeated in May 2013.
Voters in Portland twice rejected fluoridation before approving it in 1978. That plan was overturned two years later, before any fluoride was ever added to the water.
At this point, Simmons said, he may be done trying to get more than three minutes with the city council and want to start collecting signatures to put the measure on the May 2015 ballot
“It’s not the end of the road,” Simmons said. “A ballot measure would give it more legitimacy and gives us some time to gather more support.”
For more information, go online to Fluoridealert.org or visit the Silverton Water Fluoridation group on Facebook.