In Portland, fluoride debate is ideological clash

Associated Press
This June 29, 2011 shows Portland's reservoir No. 6 in Mount Tabor Park in Portland, Ore. Portland is the largest city in the United States that has yet to approve fluoridation to combat tooth decay, a distinction set to change at a City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. Mayor Sam Adams and two city commissioners have announced their support, ensuring a majority on the five-member panel. Many in Portland and the state at large have long opposed public fluoridation, saying it's unsafe and violates an individual's right to consent to medication. While 73 percent of the U.S. population drinks water treated with fluoride, the rate is less than 25 percent in Oregon. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
.

View gallery

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — It's a dental story told so often it borders on cliche.

When someone moves to Portland from another state — and that's most people you meet in this city of transplants — their new dentist takes one look at their excellent teeth and concludes they must have been raised elsewhere, a place that puts fluoride in its drinking water.

The tale is also told from the perspective of native Portlanders.

"I have had several dentists comment on my and my children's teeth, saying: 'Oh, I can see you grew up in Portland,'" Mary Lou Hennrich said. And that's no compliment, she added.

Portland is the largest city in the U.S. that has yet to approve fluoridation to combat tooth decay, a distinction that could change at Wednesday's city council meeting. Mayor Sam Adams and two city commissioners have announced their support, ensuring a majority on the five-member panel.

Fluoridation has been an emotional topic in communities across the country for more than 50 years, and continues to be in cities ranging from conservative Wichita, Kan., to a place whose unofficial motto is "Keep Portland Weird."

Portland is considered one of the nation's most liberal, and the issue presents a clash between two progressive positions: the desire to improve the dental health of low-income children and the impulse to avoid putting anything unnecessary in the air, food or water.

"The fact that Portland stands out as the largest U.S. city without fluoridation is not the kind of weird we should be," the mayor said. "This is causing pain to kids."

Many in Portland and the state have long opposed public fluoridation, saying it's unsafe and violates an individual's right to consent to medication. While 73 percent of the U.S. population drinks water treated with fluoride, the rate is less than 25 percent in Oregon.

Portland voters twice rejected fluoride before approving it in 1978. They overturned their decision before it was ever added to the water.

The issue re-emerged last month, when a coalition of health and other organizations that had been lobbying the council for more than a year gained the public support of Commissioner Randy Leonard.

Opponents criticized the council for rushing into action without a public vote, and plan to collect signatures to force a referendum on it in May 2014. More than 225 people signed up to testify at a public hearing last week that ran 6 ½ hours. Sixty-one percent opposed fluoridation.

"Barnyard animals are force medicated, not human beings," said Mike Smith, a member of the Occupy Portland movement.

Portland's drinking water already contains naturally occurring fluoride, though not at levels considered to be effective at fighting cavities.

A 2007 report from the state Department of Human Services said 35 percent of Oregon first-through-third graders had untreated dental decay, a higher percentage than in neighboring states with more fluoridation, such as Washington (19 percent) and Idaho (27 percent). Dentists describe a health care crisis, with their offices and clinics inundated with cavity-ravaged youngsters.

"A lot of these kids will have such severe problems that they need to be hospitalized in order to have their dental care done," said Lisa Bozzetti, dental director at the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Clinic.

Fluoride opponents, however, say the dental benefits of the mineral are small (better diets would have greater impact) and don't outweigh the negatives.

The Internet is rife with warnings about fluoridation, and residents with thyroid issues, kidney disease and multiple chemical sensitivity worry it will make their lives worse. Others say it reduces IQ and can cause autism, memory loss, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other problems.

Rick North, the former executive vice president of the American Cancer Society in Oregon, said he figured fluoride was OK until he started researching the issue several years ago and spotted many red flags. Supporters, he said, believe it is a "silver bullet" to fight cavities and won't hurt anyone else.

"But you can't put a drug into the water supply and expect that it's not going to have side effects," he said.

Commissioner Nick Fish, who co-sponsored the plan, said more than 200 million Americans drink water with added fluoride, and it doesn't appear to have caused great harm. Most mainstream health organizations, such as the American Medical Association and American Dental Association, endorse it as safe.

"Over the last 50 years, as we have fluoridated more water, the overall IQ of Americans has gone up," he said. "I don't suggest a cause-and-effect, but I also think it shows the reverse isn't true."

The ordinance to be voted on Wednesday calls for the water to be fluoridated by March 2014 at a projected upfront cost of $5 million.

Mayor Adams, who is not seeking re-election, said he planned to take time before the vote to research how people with the health conditions described at the public hearing live in cities that fluoridate. But he has yet to hear anything persuasive enough to change his opinion that it is a safe and effective way to help children born into families that can't afford dentists or don't stress dental health.

"Science is about the preponderance of evidence," he said. "There are very few proofs in this world."

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Executive actions ready to go as Trump prepares to take office

      By Ayesha Rascoe and Julia Edwards Ainsley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump is preparing to sign executive actions on his first day in the White House on Friday to take the opening steps to crack down on immigration, build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and roll back outgoing President Barack Obama's policies. Trump, a Republican elected on Nov. 8 to succeed Democrat Obama, arrived in Washington on a military plane with his family a day before he will be sworn in during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. Aides said Trump would not wait to wield one of the most powerful tools of his office, the presidential pen, to sign several executive actions that can be implemented without the input of Congress.

      Reuters
    • 'NCIS: Los Angeles' star Miguel Ferrer dies at 61

      NEW YORK (AP) — Miguel Ferrer, who brought stern authority to his featured role on CBS' hit "NCIS: Los Angeles" and, before that, to NBC crime drama "Crossing Jordan," has died.

      Associated Press
    • Animal Shelter Offers $11,200 Reward After Rottweiler Is Found With Ears, Nose and Tail Cut Off

      "Baron is doing remarkably well considering his injuries," a veterinarian reported.

      Inside Edition
    • Bella Hadid & The Weeknd REUNITE in NYC While Selena Leans on Friends

      The Weeknd reunites with Bella Hadid in New York City, while his rumored new lady- a miss Selena Gomez- lays low in LA

      Clevver News
    • Cancer Patient Who Did 'Juju on That Beat' During Chemo in Viral Video Dies

      Ana-Alecia Ayala, who made headlines in October for dancing up a storm during chemotherapy treatments, has died after a year-long battle against cancer.

      Inside Edition
    • Accused Cop Killer Markeith Loyd Yells 'F*** You!' at Judge, Will Represent Himself

      The alleged Florida cop killer made his first court appearance Thursday.

      Inside Edition
    • Everything We Think We Know About the Upcoming Ford Bronco and Ranger

      Ford promises a new small pickup truck and a return of the legendary Bronco name. Here's what to expect.

      Road & Track
    • Foreclosed mall once valued at $190M is auctioned for $100

      TARENTUM, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania mall that was foreclosed on after its owners failed to repay $143 million has been auctioned off for $100.

      Associated Press
    • Giant Florida Gator Is Not For Tourists, Nature Preserve Staff Warn

      Officials for the county's natural resources division said, although, they appreciate the attention the nature reserve has been getting, they are also worried about the safety of visitors and wildlife.

      International Business Times
    • Donald Trump Is Already Tweeting Us Into War with North Korea

      The next president has managed to put himself on a collision course with Pyongyang. Can he cut a deal to stop it?

      Foreign Policy Magazine
    • Documents: Woman knew for months she'd been stolen at birth

      An 18-year-old who was kidnapped as an infant discovered months ago that she had been raised by her abductor under an assumed name, court documents show.

      Associated Press
    • When presidential inaugurations go very, very wrong

      As Constitution Daily counts down to Inauguration Day, we look back at three presidential ceremonies from the 1800s that ended very badly.

      National Constitution Center
    • Deadly snow avalanche hits hotel in earthquake-stricken central Italy (15 photos)

      Rescue workers were met with an eerie silence Thursday when they reached a four-star spa hotel struck by an avalanche in a mountainous earthquake-stricken region of central Italy. At least 30 people were missing, including at least two children, authorities said. Guests at the three-story Hotel Rigopiano in the central Abruzzo region alerted emergency workers of the disaster on Wednesday, following a series of quakes in the region. “Help, we’re dying of cold,” one couple wrote rescuers, according to the ANSA news agency. Another man, identified by news reports as Fabio Salzetta, sent a SMS message saying he had escaped with a maintenance worker, but that others were trapped inside. Corriere della Sera quoted the text message as saying: “Some walls were knocked down.” And: “I’m outside with a maintenance worker but you can’t see anything of the hotel, there’s only a wall of snow in front of me.” When rescuers on skis arrived in the early morning hours of Thursday, they found just two people alive, according to news reports. Civil protection authorities said that 30 people were missing. The ANSA news agency quoted a rescuer as saying that there were fatalities, but details weren’t immediately available. Just one body was reported removed from the hotel by late morning Thursday. (AP) See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr .

      Yahoo News Photo Staff
    • A Family's Fight: Mom and Her 1-Year-Old Daughter Battling Cancer Together

      She wasn't expecting her own diagnosis, much less her daughter's.

      Inside Edition
    • Ex-president George H.W. Bush moved to intensive care; wife hospitalized

      Bush, who at 92 is the nation's oldest living ex-president, has been at Houston Methodist Hospital since Saturday after experiencing shortness of breath, family spokesman Jim McGrath said on Wednesday. Since then, Bush experienced an "acute respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia" and was sedated for the unspecified procedure, his office said.

      Reuters
    • How fast is too fast? Tesla’s Model S P100D hits a 0-60 time of 2.38 seconds

      Let's be honest: Tesla doesn't really need to make its cars go any faster. After all, it's not as if Tesla owners are lamenting the fact that a handful of multi-million dollar supercars can go from 0-60 MPH just a few tenths of a second faster than a top of the line Model S. That of course has never stopped Elon Musk and co. from attempting to turn the Model S into an unrivaled speed demon. This past August, Tesla unveiled the Model S P100 D, a car that can go from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds flat. Upon its introduction, Elon Musk boasted that it was the fastest production car on the planet. Elon Musk, though, is a notorious glutton for speed and performance, which is to say that Tesla engineers quickly got to work on ways to make the already jaw-dropping 2.5 0-60 time even more impressive. To this point, Tesla last week released an over the air update that manged to make Tesla's flagship Model S even faster. Musk even took to Twitter where he hinted that a 0-60 time of just 2.34 seconds might even be possible. https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/819609111801139200?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Just one week later, we finally have our first legit video -- from the adventurous folks on YouTube's Tesla Racing Channel -- which showcases the Tesla Model S P100D in "Ludicrous+" mode going from 0-60 at breakneck speed. While the Model S didn't hit 2.34 seconds, it did manage to post a time of 2.38 seconds. You can check out video of the Model S P100 D putting in work via the video below. All the more impressive is that Tesla managed to make the car faster solely via a software update. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUAZcD0gqDg Lastly, and for those who have an unquenchable thirst for speed, you can check out a list of the world's fastest cars over here .

      BGR News
    • Roethlisberger hoping to play up to Brady's "gold standard"

      Ben Roethlisberger intended for the moment to be private. The camera following him to midfield and the microphone tucked inside Tom Brady's shoulder pads ended up making that impossible. Their brief exchange ...

      Associated Press
    • Durant dazzles against former Oklahoma City team once more

      OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Russell Westbrook promised to pay back Zaza Pachulia for a hard foul.

      Associated Press
    • The internet roasts a photo of Donald Trump writing his inauguration speech

      When times get tough, at least you can still meme. President-elect Donald Trump is slated to deliver his inauguration address on Friday, so he teased his Twitter followers with a little behind-the-scenes photo of himself writing a speech at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. SEE ALSO: Don's Johns: Port-a-potties get censored for Trump’s inauguration Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday. #Inauguration pic.twitter.com/S701FdTCQu — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2017 The staged photo and Trump's cold, dead gaze sent the internet straight into "meme mode alpha," where it was pointed out that Trump was actually holding Sharpie marker, which may or may not actually be closed. @realDonaldTrump that is a blank piece of paper and you're holding a closed sharpie pic.twitter.com/ekCcH8eTXe — Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) January 18, 2017 @cajunmonkey439 @realDonaldTrump It is *obviously* a sharpie. pic.twitter.com/gdD2AUhBKX — Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) January 18, 2017 .@realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/8CSroNshBR — XpeK (@peKofX) January 18, 2017 Surprised that you didn't just use this photo as your epic, bigly speech pic.twitter.com/SezwzToFg4 — Roland Scahill (@rolandscahill) January 18, 2017 good job @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/Ioj869Tfy3 — uhhh (@_uhhhhhhh) January 18, 2017 pic.twitter.com/pAKcXAEAkD — Sam Grittner (@SamGrittner) January 18, 2017 @realDonaldTrump #NotMyPresident #TheResistance #conflict #Putin #Inauguration In house security cam Mar a Lago pic.twitter.com/diwnpjAS3F — Beo Bachter (@kaysintBB) January 18, 2017 Early draft of Donald Trump’s inauguration speech. #TrumpSpeech #MyFirstWordsAsPresident #MAGA pic.twitter.com/qgo1glv5cG — Tom ❄️ (@TommieWho) January 18, 2017 Exclusive sneak peek at Trump's inauguration speech! pic.twitter.com/6W6ex0Ks3z — Kara Calavera (@KaraCalavera) January 18, 2017 Trump's Inaugural address leaked... pic.twitter.com/J8soJQ4Ira — Jordan Uhl (@JordanUhl) January 18, 2017 Exclusive: #Trump's Inauguration speech leaked! #TrumpInaugural #trumpgrammar pic.twitter.com/XzrXXpnjxD — Gerry Stergiopoulos (@GerryGreek) January 18, 2017 According to CNN, Trump did write his inauguration speech himself. BONUS: NBD, just a massive alligator out for a stroll

      Mashable
    • Virginia man convicted of 2006 slaying of family is executed

      JARRATT, Va. (AP) — A man convicted of killing a family of four, slashing their throats and setting their home ablaze after they left their front door open while preparing for a New Year's Day party in 2006, was executed Wednesday.

      Associated Press