I was honored to serve on the Portland City Council for 17 years. During that time I worked to protect our Bull Run water supply from logging and other degradations. If you have tried water in other major cities, you know that Portland’s clean water is one of the things that make our city unique.
For many years I supported water fluoridation, but in 2006, I developed severe neuropathy and could scarcely walk. After extensive testing, I learned I was suffering from arsenic poisoning. Since then I have worked with my medical providers to reduce my arsenic levels, but it is a continuing effort.
My doctors have strongly advised me to avoid drinking water with fluoride. Fluoride itself can aggravate my medical condition, according to my doctor, who has spent dozens of hours reviewing all pertinent scientific studies. Testing of fluoride suggests a presence of fluoride [sic, should be arsenic]. This mass medication would be imposed against many people’s wishes.
The chemical proposed to fluoridate our drinking water is called fluorosilicic acid. It’s not the same fluoride as in toothpaste. Well-intentioned people often fail to understand the distinction between the two. Fluorosilicic acid is a byproduct of fertilizer production that is a strictly regulated pollutant if released into the air or water by fertilizer plants. It was good to see the recent editorial in The Oregonian acknowledge that fluorosilicic acid comes from fertilizer manufacturing, but the idea that we should “fertilize our teeth” by adding this byproduct goes against the common sense telling us not to add industrial chemicals to our drinking water.
Even with a pharmaceutical-grade fluoride, there would still be no way to control the dose people receive. Some of us drink large amounts of water, others less. Some have kidney and other health issues that would be affected by fluoridated water. Formula-fed infants are at special risk, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that infant formula should not be exclusively mixed with fluoridated water to avoid excessive exposure. While fluoride applied topically to the teeth makes sense, adding fluoridation chemicals to the entire body in uncontrolled doses does not.
The millions of dollars in new water rates to build a fluoridation plant and buy fluoridation chemicals would be far better spent on early prevention and increased access to care for those in need. Cavity rates have recently declined in Multnomah County by 10 percent and statewide by 19 percent. That shows we can reduce cavities without fluoridation.
Supporters say there is no need to worry about the increased levels of arsenic in fluoridation chemicals because the levels are below the EPA’s maximum limits. But in a world where pollution from many sources is more and more common, I, like many Portlanders, do not want any more arsenic or other toxins in our community drinking water added to the mix.
Because of my personal experience, my careful examination of the facts and my longtime work to protect Portland’s uniquely good water supply, I urge you to join me in voting “no” on fluoridation chemicals in Portland’s community drinking water.
Mike Lindberg, who as a city commissioner oversaw the Water Bureau, lives in Southeast Portland