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City Club panel supports Portland fluoridation measure

A Portland City Club study committee is recommending that the club endorse the water fluoridation measure on Portland’s May 21 ballot. The full club will vote on the recommendation April 19.

Portland City Council approved fluoridation of its Bull Run water supply Sept. 12, but critics gathered enough signatures to force a referendum vote, which appears on the ballot as Measure 26-151. Click here to read the City Club report.

All but one of the 12 City Club study committee members recommended fluoridation, concluding that 65 years of experience shows it is a safe way to reduce dental cavities and promote dental health.

A sole dissenter on the committee wrote a minority report, saying dental treatments are best done in a dentist’s office, and that fluoridating the entire water supply takes place without the informed consent of all consumers.

The Portland City Club has a history of supporting water fluoridation, dating back to a 1955 research report. The club endorsed a 1956 fluoridation on the city ballot, as well as a 1962 measure. Both failed at the polls.

The club opposed a 1976 state ballot measure that would have banned fluoridation, arguing that local water districts and municipalities should retain the right to fluoridate their water supply. That measure also failed.

In 1978, Portland voters, on the third try, supported fluoridation. However, critics forced a public vote to overturn the decision, which occurred in 1980, before the water treatment system was changed. For the third time in four tries, Portland voters rejected fluoridation. The Portland City Club reiterated its support for fluoridation during the 1980 campaign.

The club again supported fluoridation in a 2002 resolution.