Mid-valley cities would not be affected by a water fluoridation bill that cleared a hurdle in the Oregon House on Wednesday.
The bill, HB 2025, would require cities with a population of 10,000 or more to add fluoride to their water supplies.
Albany, Sweet Home and Corvallis have fluoridated their water for decades, and Lebanon began doing so in October 2001 following a City Council decision in January 2000.
The only effect Lebanon has noticed since then was that its required annual household water tests showed more contamination with lead than before.
City Administrator John Hitt said that adding fluoride apparently changed the water chemistry enough to cause more lead to be leached from pipes in some houses dating from before the 1960s.
The problem has been solved by adjusting the chemistry at the treatment plant, but while the water now again meets federal standards, lead still shows up slightly more often than before.
If there’s been a reduction in tooth decay ˜ the goal of fluoridation ˜ nobody has reported it, Hitt said.
Dr. Tom Markello, the pediatrician who persuaded the Lebanon City Council to approve fluoridation, is no longer around to ask about it. He left two years ago for Douglas, Wyo., according to a receptionist at the clinic where he previously worked.
The bill cleared by the House Water Committee would excempt cities from the fluoridation requirement if they lack the money to put in the equipment.
The bill would prohibit water suppliers from charging their customers or taxpayers for the fluoridation. But a staff member for Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, the committee chairman, said today this applied only to start-up costs.
The bill, according to the staff member, would not affect cities that already fluoridate their water.
The measure now goes to the House.
Roughly 20 percent of Oregonians drink fluoridated water, which health professionals maintain is an easy and safe method of preventing tooth decay in children and adults. Critics claim the practice is harmful.
Major Oregon cities without fluoridated water include Portland, Eugene, Medford, Bend and Gresham.