Fluoride Action Network

Albany, Oregon. Back to the Sixties: Debating fluoridation

Source: HASSO HERING A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley | March 28th, 2022 | By Hasso Hering
Location: United States, Oregon

Fifty-four years after an election on fluoridation of the Albany drinking water supply, the issue is back before the city council.

Councilwoman Matilda Novak brought it up. On March 21, she said she understood that fluoridation had been approved years ago by ordinance, and now she wanted a new ordinance to reverse that decision.

Novak asked that the issue be placed on a future agenda. She’ll get her wish. Last week City Manager Peter Troedsson announced fluoridation will be before the council on April 27.

I emailed the councilwoman to ask what prompted her request.

“Early in March,” she said by email, “I was contacted by a constituent who expressed grave concerns over the fact that Albany’s water supply contains fluoride (which I’ve known for some time now to be a toxic substance),” she told me by email.

She added that she had shared with the rest of the council “data and information” in support of her point that fluoride may be harmful and should not be added to the water.

This is a question that has been debated over the decades.

In Albany, the debate raged back and forth in the 1960s, with several council votes, referrals to overturn the votes, and initiatives to overturn whatever had been decided last.

The question came to a head in a special election on Aug. 15, 1968, on a measure to uphold or overturn a council-passed ordinance against fluoridation. This was believed to be the seventh time the issue had been before the voters.

The result: Votes against the fluoridation ban — 943. Votes to keep banning fluoridation — 676.

The upshot was that Pacific Power & Light, which owned the water system then, said it would start adding fluoride to Albany water that December. The city continued the practice when it bought the system in 1984.

When Novak brought this up, Councilor Ray Kopczynski said he was 100 percent opposed to ending fluoridation. And Councilor Dick Olsen related how it had helped his children avoid tooth decay.

Chris Bailey, the public works director, reminded Novak that all she needed to get the council to order a stop to fluoridation was four votes. (hh)


19 responses to “Back to the Sixties: Debating fluoridation”

  1. MarK says:

    Let’s just hope the council seeks advice from knowledgeable people in public safety and/or health care professionals before making some knee jerk decision based on what could be “Chicken Little” mentality.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    City government should not have the coercive power to involuntarily mass medicate its residents.

    The prevention of tooth decay can be achieved by other means that allow for autonomous choice.

    This is classic paternalism. You know better than your local government what should or should not be voluntarily ingested into your body.

    john marble says:

    Mr. Shadle, does your argument apply equally to the addition of chlorine to the public water supply?

    Just wondering.

    Bob Woods says:


    Gordon L. Shadle says:

    If you’re okay with medicating residents with fluoride, would you be okay with adding vitamins to the water supply?

    What about pain killers?

    They wouldn’t make the water safer for consumption, but just think of the health benefits.

    Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The purpose of adding chlorine is to make the water safer at the point of individual consumption.

    The purpose of fluoride is to medicate the individual consumer.

    Apples and oranges.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the local water supply was chemical free?

    The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria have been able to implement water systems that operate without chlorine.

    Why can’t Albany?

    MarK says:

    You’re more than welcome to move to any of the countries you’ve noted! Don’t let the door hit you in the behind!

    Bob Woods says:

    Wrong Godon. Whether chlorine or flouride it’s to protect public health.


  3. John Hartman says:

    From the CDC a website, on the matter of fluoridation of community water systems.

    “ In 2018, community water systems that contain enough fluoride to protect teeth served more than 200 million people or 73% of the US population.”

    Are we to take the proven experience of 200-million people, or are we more inclined to take the word of “a constituent with grave concerns.”

    If I were to contact a Councilor with a grave concern regarding Jewish Space Lasers, would that Councilor hop to and propose a ban on such devices?

    The science on water fluoridation is well understood and has been thoroughly examined for decades. Perhaps Novak ought to simply say a few reassuring words to her concerned constituent and not waste City Council sessions on this issue.

    No, Councilor Novak…the Commies are not poisoning Americans with fluoride, and No, Councilor Novak…Biden did not steal the election…and no, Councilor Novak, the democrats are not operating a child abuse operation in Cidici’s basement. Get serious about your job or walk away.

  4. Rhea Graham says:

    Councilor Novak is 100% right, it is a toxin that is added to our water and shouldn’t be. Let the truth be told!

    centrist says:

    It’s not toxic at the concentration delivered. Many parts of our diet (say salt, sugar, ethanol) are well-tolerated at modest doses, but turn deadly at higher ones.

  5. James Engel says:

    Back to the dark ages with Matilda. Why even filter our water then Matilda? This is the U s of A, not your parents backwoods Europe girl. When you had Neanderthal Russian Communists dentists to work on your teeth. Prevention beats a dentists drill anytime!! Are you so left liberal that evidence doesn’t persuade you?? I avoid your restaurant because of your actions on the council & tell my friends to do the same!

  6. DSimpson says:

    There’s no doubt that fluoride can be a toxic chemical, just as there can be no doubt as to its effectiveness in reducing tooth decay. This raises the real question– does Ms. Novak sincerely believe that the current Albany fluoridation process is toxic? If so, does she have any local empirical evidence to support the claim? Or is this a case of a person “doing the research” by Googling “fluoride”?

  7. Mac says:

    Not sure how she got elected. Ask her opinion on Covid vaccines and masking, Qanon…

  8. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Two opposing points of view:



    Until/if/when there are definitive studies proving otherwise, the benefits far outweigh the negatives IMO.

    I stand by what I said at the meeting.

  9. Richard Vannice says:

    Try checking Medical News Today (www.medical news today.com) which reports that, “Flouride comes from flourine, which is a common, natural and abundant element.

    Adding flouride to the water supply reduces the incidence of tooth decay.

    Flouride protects teeth from decay by demineralization and remineralization.

    Too much flouride can lead to dental fluorocis or skeletal fluorosis, which can damage bone and joints.

    There are many things, salt for instance, that are used daily that can be “Toxic” if used to excess.

    Some sinple research would find how many PPM are toxic and then compare that with what is in the City Water. I’d bet that the City Water meets the standard level.

  10. Michael Thomson says:

    I appreciate Councilor Kopczynski unequivocal response.

    There is no debate here. Water fluoridation is listed by the CDC as one of the top ten public health improvements of the 20th century.

  11. Al Nyman says:

    Florine and chlorine are next to each other on the periodic chart. They’re both poisons if too much is absorbed but nobody talks about chlorine when they swim.

  12. Bob Woods says:

    WOW! I agree with Al.

    Not buddies, but can still find common ground. Occasionally….

    *Original article and comments online at https://hh-today.com/back-to-the-sixties-debating-fluoridation/#comment-30055