Portland, Oregon voters have said no to adding fluoride to the drinking water. Portland’s drinking water comes from the foothills of the Cascade mountains and runs naturally clean.
The measure to add fluoride to the drinking water was struck down with more than 60% voting against it. Reasons for voting against the measure included the potential for higher incidences of diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney disease, and bone cancer. Advocates for fluoridated drinking water pointed out that those diseases are associated with fluoride in much higher concentrations than that found in treated drinking water.
The Sierra Club noted that heavy metals could be inadvertently added to the drinking water with the fluoride chemicals. H2SiF6 and Na2SiF6 are common fluoride compounds added to municipal waters. Both chemicals often contain impurities, such as lead or arsenic, which would be added to the water supply, along with the fluoride. The heavy metals would then make their way into the local aquatic ecosystems, affecting salmon in addition to humans.
Dentists and doctors groups expressed dismay that a proven cavity-prevention tool was not being used. However, a recently released statewide report on dental health showed that Portland and the surrounding areas have fewer cavities than other parts of the state with fluoridated water. Between 2007 and 2012, the percentage of Oregon children with untreated tooth decay dropped from 36% to 20%. In the Portland area, the percentage went from 25% to 21%.
In 2011, the U.S. government recommended reducing the amount of fluoride in municipal water systems. A study found that 41% of children showed signs of mild fluorosis. Since fluoridation of public water systems began in the 1940s, fluoride toothpaste and dental care have become more accessible to the general public. Fluoride in the drinking water is no longer seen as necessary, even among many who believe fluoride has more benefits than risks.