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Readers' Letters

by: JIM CLARK/TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Creston Elementary School offers a free dental clinic for kids. The Portland City Council will vote Sept. 12 on a fluoridation plan for the Bull Run Reservoir, which supplies almost one-quarter of the state with drinking water. Supporters say fluoridated water will reduce the overall cost of dental care. Opponents say fluoride endangers childrens’ health and shouldn’t be in drinking water.Like most of you, I’m not a doctor or scientist. And like all of you, I don’t have time to research every subject I need to make a decision about. We typically look to the opinions of individuals and organizations we know and trust and act accordingly.

I’m the former chief executive officer of the Oregon American Cancer Society and, until I retired last year, the founder and director for the Campaign for Safe Food, a program of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.

I once supported water fluoridation. The federal government had approved it, and many organizations whose members I worked with, such as the American Medical Association and American Dental Association, had endorsed it.

But then a few people I respected, knowing I’ve worked on health issues most of my life, asked me five years ago to research fluoridation. When I did, I was amazed and chagrined.

First, it was abundantly clear that there is no consensus fluoridation is safe for human health. On the contrary, there are hundreds of recent, peer-reviewed human and animal studies that raise red flags.

Many of them were reviewed in the landmark 2006 report Fluoride in Drinking Water by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science, considered the gold standard of scientific inquiry. This 507-page volume is chock full of scientific data expressing concern over fluoride’s harmful effects, including fluorosis in teeth, bone fractures, possible bone cancer, kidney and thyroid disease and neurotoxic effects, including the lowering of intelligence.

Lower IQ? Whoa, indeed.

Most countries in the world have either not started fluoridation or stopped it. Only 27 of 196 nations have fluoridated water, and only 11 have more than 50 percent of their population drinking it.

Most nations in Europe won’t fluoridate. A French official stated that fluoridation wasn’t allowed “due to ethical as well as medical considerations.”

To me, the National Academies of Science report’s most disturbing section showed high-fluoride areas in China lowering the IQ scores of kids by seven to 10 points.

Fluoride levels were higher than in the United States and each study had weaknesses, but the National Academies of Science nevertheless concluded “the consistency of the collective results warrants additional research on the effects of fluoride on intelligence.”

Then, just weeks ago, a Harvard meta- analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health examined 27 studies, 25 of which also showed children in high-fluoride areas having lower IQ scores, further confirming the National Academies of Science’s findings. The institute reported that the effects of fluoride lowering intelligence should be a “high research priority.”

Look at just a partial list of substances once declared safe, only to be found harmful upon further research — lead, asbestos, tobacco, DES, DDT, thalidomide. The prevailing science is going down the very same road for water fluoridation.

Please urge all City Council members to vote against a practice that we, our children and grandchildren may pay dearly for.

Our mothers’ words never rang so true: “Better safe than sorry.”

Rick North


Oregon kids deserve healthy teeth

Portland is the largest city in the country without fluoridated water, and only 22.6 percent of Oregonians receive fluoridated water. The Oregonian estimates that the cost of setting up water fluoridation for residents of Portland, Tualatin, Gresham and Tigard will be around $5 million, but the Centers for Disease Control states that cities can save $38 in dental costs for every $1 invested in water fluoridation.

In Oregon, where more than 35 percent of third graders have untreated tooth decay, water fluoridation should be an essential part of our health policy strategy. Prevention is necessary to reduce health care costs, and water fluoridation will improve oral health and overall health, reducing health care costs while enhancing overall public health.

The CDC calls water fluoridation one of the top 10 public health advances of the 20th century.

I join more than 75 local organizations in supporting this effort to give Oregon kids healthy teeth.

State Rep. Tobias Read

House District 27


Industry, not citizens, supports fluoridation

As of this date, there is a large number (57) of local associations and coalitions in favor of fluoridation of our public water supply. Many of them I have never heard of, while some are well-known health agencies.

Are these groups composed of committees or does their general membership know of their actions?

As a private citizen and taxpayer, I am concerned that all of this lobbying of our city council occurred for months before it was publicized recently in the media. Is this the way the public, which will be affected by such decisions, is to be dealt with? Is this representative government? Aren’t we supposed to be supported by our city council instead of their supporting associations and coalitions? Somebody has been doing a lot of lobbying for some time. The citizens of Beaverton did not get to vote on fluoridation — their city council did it for them.

As a citizen, I am not in favor of fluoridation. Also, I am not a “crackpot,” as proponents identify those opposing the issue. As a retired professor, I taught for 37 years in the fields of communication, theatre and communication disorders.

My father-in-law, Dr. Frederick Blythe Exner, M.D., F.A.C.R. (Seattle) and Dr. G.L. Waldbott, M.D. wrote the first scientifically based book, “The American Fluoridation Experiment,” in 1957. (Devon-Adair Co., New York/Available on Amazon.com).

Exner was a trained scientist whose father was head of the Department of Chemistry at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. Exner was meticulous in his research and writings. I know, as a researcher myself — I observed him for nearly 20 years. I have his book and many of his exhaustive research papers and essays. He did not publish information he could not support. He lectured around the world as an expert witness.

Federal agencies and proponents of the issue attacked him and labeled him a “crackpot,” as did a reporter for Time Magazine, which supported the issue. It did not deter him from honest research.

What causes dental caries? Poor dental hygiene, the sugar-based food industries, the soft drink companies, plus the processed food companies that use high-fructose corn syrup as a basic ingredient.

Some agencies don’t want to lose research funds if they don’t follow the federal position. And fluoridation equipment manufacturers are certainly supportive of the issue. We’re talking about big money here.

What happened to fluoridated toothpaste? It was supposed to be the panacea for dental health. It is apparently a failure because the solution now is to fluoridate the water supply. Did you ever read the small print warning label on a tube of fluoride toothpaste? It refers you to a poison center if a child under five years of age swallows any amount.

But who reads labels? If you have fluoridation and fluoride toothpaste at the same time you will receive unsafe large doses of fluoride.

Also fluoride generates fluorosis, which is a mottling and staining of the teeth that will occur in a certain percentage of the population.

The Wall Street Journal on March 23, 2008 cited the “National Academy of Sciences Call(ing) Current Ceiling (of fluoride) Unsafe.” The Centers for Disease Control recently strongly recommended reducing fluoride content in the public water supply under one part/million.

The online article “50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation” is a wealth of information taken from scientific studies, medical and dental journal articles and books.

Fluoridation is a bad medical practice. The dose cannot be controlled and goes to everyone regardless of health, age or vulnerability. Fluoride is not an essential requirement for any biological process. It can interfere with many bodily functions, and it accumulates in the body.

Fluoride in your water doesn’t just treat your teeth. It’s in your bath and you absorb it. It’s in the cooking of meals and it concentrates. It’s in your baby’s formula. It’s in your laundry. Your pets ingest it. It’s in your lawn, your flower and vegetable garden. And who drinks the same amount of water each day?

Fluoridation is a bad idea for Portland and for everyone else.

Robert W. Vogelsang

Southwest Portland

Help low-income children’s health

Well stated, Dr. (Arthur) Jaffe (Give children back their smiles, health, Aug. 29).

Fluoridation is the foundation of a sound public dental health policy.

Any dentist, physician and public health worker knows well that to have good health, one needs education, prevention and access to care. If you do not have all three, all bets are off on a child growing up cavity-free.

Fluoridation is egalitarian access to oral care and will help level the playing field for low-income children so that they can succeed in school and someday enjoy the American Dream.

Kurt L. Ferré

Dental director, Creston Children’s Dental Clinic

Northeast Portland

Fluoridation violates right to informed consent

Regardless of whether fluoridation has been proven effective or not, the act of fluoridating the public water is a form of mass-medication and violates our right to informed consent: our right to refuse or accept medication (Don’t contaminate our world-class water, Aug. 29).

Chlorine and other chemicals are routinely added to our water supply to treat the water and make it safe and palatable. Fluoride is the first and only chemical added to our drinking water to treat the people who consume it.

A common argument among fluoride supporters is that, “We put vitamin D in milk and iodine in salt. How is fluoridated water any different?”

First of all, fluoride is not a vitamin or a nutrient. It is considered by the USDA to be a new and unapproved drug, while the FDA has approved it for topical use only. Fluoride is also an unregulated and unfiltered by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry that contains unqualified impurities like lead and arsenic. Unlike vitamin D or iodine, fluoride is not essential for our survival and well-being.

Secondly, consumers may choose to purchase iodized salt or fortified milk. They may patronize other options for their families, such as sea salt or vegan milks. Consumers may also choose to abstain from these products altogether.

Humans cannot abstain from water, and Portlanders cannot choose an alternate water provider. Those who choose to drink bottled water or purchase costly reverse osmosis water filters will still have immeasurable exposure to fluoride when bathing, watering gardens and washing fruits and vegetables with fluoridated water.

Amanda Richards

Southeast Portland

Fluoridation is safe, effective

Fluoridation is a proven safe and effective practice to reduce tooth decay, and I am very disappointed with the gross inaccuracies in this opinion piece (Don’t contaminate our world-class water, Aug. 29).

Fluoride added to water is extremely pure. For example, the detected level of arsenic in fluoride samples averages 0.12 ppb. You would get 290 times that level by drinking a cup of tea or 250 times that by eating an apple as drinking a glass of fluoridated water. Plus, the last three awards for best drinking water quality in the U.S. were won by fluoridated communities.

Let’s deal with real science here.

Mel Rader


Spend $5 million on dental care

Portland, say NO to fluoride (Don’t contaminate our world-class water, Aug. 29).

I don’t want it, my cats don’t want it, my birds don’t want it. My pet fish cringe at the thought of it, considering they live in water and can never escape it.

And all my veggies and flowers are not thrilled. Do not poison me.

If you have $5 million to spend as initial setup, then $600,000 a year to keep it up, you can help feed people proper, healthy diets and get them some dental care instead of poisioning them and hurting their IQs!

Lets vote on this because, like most Portlanders, I don’t want fluoride in my water.

Jessica Lynn-Rose Enders


Council is not representing citizens

Regarding “Brewers keep their spirits up in midst of fluoridation debate” (Aug. 29), here is a problem: the fact that Portlanders have voted against fluoridation in the past, but now five individuals who aren’t even that favored in office are going to vote on this, AGAIN, with their own pocket-lined opinions.

And ... where is the published evidence that Portland is in need of fluoridated water?

Jake Dandridge


Contract Publishing

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