Fluoride Action Network

Portland fluoride roundup: Stories, opinions, resources

Source: The Oregonian | August 25th, 2012 | By Amy Wang
Location: United States, Oregon

Fluoridation is back in the headlines — and how — in Portland.

This is an issue that directly affects not only Portland families but also families in Gresham, Tigard and Tualatin, which receive Portland drinking water, as well as families living in more than a dozen water districts and water companies that purchase drinking water from Portland, including the Lake Grove, Tualatin Valley and Raleigh water districts.

Fluoridating municipal water delivers fluoride to all water customers whether they want it or not. (Fluoride occurs naturally in water and soil as a chemical ion of the element fluorine, but the fluoride added to municipal water is synthesized in laboratories.) Without community fluoridation, parents who want their children to get fluoride can request a prescription for fluoride tablets. Portland Public Schools families can also opt in for free fluoride pills distributed at school.

The Portland City Council plans to hold a 2 p.m. Sept. 6 public hearing on whether to start fluoridating Portland’s drinking water. The council plans to vote on the issue Sept. 12.

Mayor Sam Adams supports fluoridation, as do Commissioners Randy Leonard and Nick Fish, giving the issue a majority on the five-member council. The Portland Mercury looks at the fluoridation views of Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Amanda Fritz, as well as Fritz challenger Mary Nolan.

Critics of fluoridation say fluoride is an industrial byproduct that has no place in drinking water and that parents concerned about dental decay would do better to monitor their children’s brushing and flossing, cut back on sugary foods and drinks, and take them to the dentist regularly.

Supporters of fluoridation say children’s dental health has reached crisis levels in Oregon and it’s time for a communitywide solution. Supporters also say that relying on parents to monitor their kids’ dental hygiene is not enough, as many families can’t afford dentist visits and regular purchases of dental products.

Brad Schmidt, a Portland City Hall reporter for The Oregonian, summed up the two sides of the fluoridation debate this week.

Here’s a roundup of other articles on the topic.


Portland’s Roger Burt has been on the front lines of the anti-fluoride fight for 34 years. Read Oregonian reporter Anna Griffin’s article about Burt and watch a video featuring Burt.

Opponents of Portland’s plan to fluoridate local drinking water held a press conference Wednesday to formally announce their effort to ban fluoride in 2014.  They’ve organized as the nonprofit Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water.

Willamette Week provides the text of the proposed anti-fluoridation ballot title. The paper also lays out five common arguments against fluoridation.

The Portland blog UrbanMamas has an anti-fluoridation post that drew dozens of comments.

From KOIN.com: Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency called for lowering the recommended level of fluoride in U.S. drinking water to prevent fluorosis, a condition in which teeth can become streaked or spotty due to excess fluoride.

A Facebook group called Portlanders Against Fluoride has accumulated hundreds of likes.

Also on social media is a Change.org petition asking the Portland City Council not to fluoridate city drinking water.

A Southwest Portland resident writes that fluoridation of public water would unfairly burden Portlanders in terms of due political process and freedom of choice.


In 2005, the Burlington, Vt., Board of Health announced that it no longer unanimously supported community water fluoridation.

The Fluoride Action Network is a leading critic of fluoridation and has an international advisory board.


Commissioner Nick Fish says fluoridating the city’s water will offer big returns on dental costs. PolitiFact Oregon checked out his claim and issued a “Mostly True” ruling.

Portland mayoral candidates Charles Hales and Jefferson Smith said in a recent radio appearance that they both are inclined to support fluoridation.

The Oregonian’s editorial board opined in favor of fluoridation. An informal online poll asking readers, “Should the city of Portland fluoridate its water?” received 704 yes votes and 691 no votes.

Oregonian cartoonist Jack Ohman takes a dim view of the anti-fluoridation forces.

KGW posted a clip of Bill Nye the Science Guy weighing in on fluoridation.


When the Philomath City Council decided last year to end 30 years of municipal water fluoridation, two local physicians protested.

The Oregon Dental Association has a webpage explaining its support for community water fluoridation.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a page devoted to community water fluoridation.

DEBUNKINGEugene resident Alice Callahan is a scientist (with a Ph.D. in nutritional biology) turned mom who writes the Science of Mom blog. Some fluoridation critics like to cite a Harvard study that found fluoride lowers IQ. Callahan’s reaction: “(T)here are all sorts of problems with making decisions about your child’s health based on what you read on the Internet, and this story makes a very good case study.” Read her analysis of the Harvard fluoride study.