12 Reasons to Vote No


Fluoridation chemicals are unpurified industrial byproducts from fertilizer manufacturing, and are not the same as the fluoride in toothpaste. The Portland Water Bureau said it will add 1.1 million pounds a year of the fluoridation chemical fluorosilicic acid (FSA) to our drinking water if fluoridation is approved.[1]
The National Academy of Sciences and even fluoridation promoters acknowledge that FSA is an industrial waste byproduct from fertilizer manufacturing.[2] [3]  FSA is a highly acidic and corrosive[4] liquid that is entirely different than the natural mineral calcium fluoride. The FDA has flatly dismissed claims[5] that fluoride is a “nutrient,“ as promoters claim.  
Adding it to our water would expose Portlanders and our kids to another risky chemical at a time when we are already over-exposed to a host of chemicals from plastics to pesticides.


Adding fluoridation chemicals also adds a cocktail of other toxics to our water.
There is no scientific dispute that fluoridation chemicals would add arsenic, lead, and mercury to our water along with fluoride. The CDC admits that that 43% of fluoridation chemicals tested contain arsenic, 2% contain lead and 3% contain copper.[6]  Other toxics from mercury to chromium have also been found in fluoridation chemicals.[7]  
Promoters claim the levels are too low to matter, but The Environmental Protection Agency is clear that toxics like arsenic and lead have no safe level, and even the smallest levels increase cancer and IQ deficit risks.[8] The idea that it is ok to add any of these toxics to our clean drinking water is a remnant from 1940’s thinking and doesn’t reflect what we know today about the importance of clean water for our health and the health of our kids.


Fluoride works topically, so why swallow?
There is a reason your toothpaste labels says, “Do Not Swallow.” After decades of believing fluoride needed to be swallowed, the CDC and National Academy of Sciences now say that the predominant effect of fluoride is topical, like in toothpaste.[9] 
Drinking fluoridated water to protect against cavities is like swallowing sunscreen to prevent sunburn. 


Recent science supports that  fluoridation is more dangerous than previously believed. The National Academy of Sciences 2006 report Fluoride in Drinking Water [10] reviewed hundreds of recent studies linking fluoride levels in drinking water to a broad spectrum of human health ailments from neurological damage and thyroid disorders to excessive fluoride consumption in infants and increased risks of bone cancer.
The 500-plus page report found “fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain,” and “Down’s syndrome is a biologically plausible outcome of exposure” to fluoride, and that “fluoride appears to have the potential to initiate or promote cancers, particularly of the bone.[11]   
Following this report, the federal government called for a reduction in maximum fluoridation concentrations by 40% [12], and issued warnings that regularly using fluoridated water to mix infant formula put infants at risk of excessive fluoride exposure[13] 
A 2012 Harvard study reported that 26 of 27 studies it reviewed found that childhood IQ decreased with increased fluoride concentrations.[14]  While some of the communities in the study had higher fluoride concentrations than we would see in Portland, others were very similar. Responding to claims by fluoridation promoters that the study was irrelevant to fluoridation, one of the study’s authors noted,

To which extent this risk applies to fluoridation in Wichita or Portland or elsewhere is uncertain, but definitely deserves concern.”[15]

In 2006, a National Institute of Health funded study published in Harvard’s Cancer Causes Control journal found boys who drank fluoridated water had more than a 500% increased risk of bone cancer.[16] The study was consistent with a number of previous studies reporting a link between fluoride’s concentration in bone and bone cancer.
The risks are of even greater concern because the CDC now admits that 40% of U.S. kids have visible signs of excessive fluoride exposure called “dental fluorosis.”[17]


The largest U.S. study ever conducted found that children drinking fluoridated water averaged only about half a cavity less than children drinking unfluoridated water.[18]
Additionally, European countries that do not fluoridate have seen the same level of cavity reductions in recent decades as the United States.[19]  
The lack of effectiveness is supported by looking at U.S. cities that have fluoridated. San Antonio, Texas, for example, has been fluoridated since 2002, yet a 2011 study found that:

“After 9 years and $3 million of adding fluoride, research shows tooth decay hasn’t dropped among the poorest of Bexar County’s children. It has only increased – up 13 percent this year.”[20]

Other fluoridated cities including Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh, New York and Washington, DC are still facing major dental health issues despite decades of fluoridation.[21]


Most of the rest of the world has rejected fluoride as risky and ineffective.
Over 94% of the world’s population drinks unfluoridated water. In Europe, only five out of 48 countries fluoridate, and European health officials have cited medical, effectiveness, and ethical concerns with the practice.[22]


Fluoridation promoters claim there is a “dental health crisis” that fluoridation will solve, but this is not supported by the facts.
Everyone agrees we can and should do more to help protect children’s teeth in Portland. However, high cavity rates in cities across the United States that have been fluoridated for decades show that fluoridation is no substitute for real solutions such as increased access to care and real prevention education.
Fluoridation promoters have used Oregon statewide data to claim a dental health crisis in Portland.  If you look at the Portland Metro Area cavity rates, our 21% [23] untreated decay rate is significantly below the national average (29%)[24] and even beats the federal 2020 goal of 26%.[25] 
We can and should do better by increasing access to dental care and prevention, but the claim Portland is in a unique dental crisis compared to other areas is politics; not fact.


Fluoridation poses disproportionate risks to communities of color, which is why national civil rights leaders from Rev. Bernice King and former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young to Rev. Gerald Durley have announced their opposition to fluoridation. Primary impacts include:
 Increased rates of fluorosis. CDC data shows that African Americans have a 78% higher rate of excessive fluoride intake (fluorosis) than whites, and Latinos have a 250% higher rate than whites.[26]  Fluorosis appears on teeth as unsightly white blotches and spots, and is a visible indicator of excessive fluoride levels in the body. 
 Excessive fluoride exposure for infants  Fluoridated water threatens infants with excessive fluoride exposure when it is regularly used to mix infant formula.
The CDC has recommended that parents use “bottled water some of the time to mix infant formula,” but this advisory is not widely promoted. Buying low-fluoride bottled water is a burden for many low-income families.[27] 
As African Americans are almost twice as likely to choose infant formula as whites, [28] fluoridation would have disproportionate impacts on African American infants.


Fluoridation violates the fundamental principle that every individual has the right to consent to or reject a given medical treatment.
Fluoride meets every legal and medical definition of a drug. It is intended to “treat,” “mitigate” or “cure” the disease known as dental caries.
FDA clearly regulates fluoride in toothpaste as a drug and has explained, “[f]luoride, when used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or animal, is a drug that is subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation.”[29]
Even if you consent to drinking fluoride in your own water, is it really ethical to require other Portlanders and their children to ingest fluoride? What about the ethics of fluoridating water in light of the significant risks that fluoride poses to those with diabetes, kidney and thyroid disorders, and multiple chemical sensitivity?


Of the 1.1 million pounds of fluoridation chemicals that would be added to Portland’s drinking water, most would end up in the Willamette and Columbia Rivers.
Fluoride is a well-known toxic to salmon and affects salmon at less than 1/3rd the concentration that would be added to drinking water (0.21mg/l [30] impact level compared to 0.7 mg/l in drinking water) as even the City of Portland has admitted.[31]  
This is one reason why leading conservation groups such as the Sierra Club’s Columbia Group, Columbia Riverkeeper, and Food and Water Watch are opposing fluoridation.


Instead of spending up to $7.6 million on a water fluoridation plant and $500,000 a year on fluoridation chemicals, Portland should focus on real solutions such as increased access to care and prevention strategies such as dental sealants that have been proven to significantly reduce cavities.
While Oregon’s childhood insurance program includes free dental insurance for low-income children, many families are not aware of the program.
Similarly, Oregon should follow the lead of other states and make basic dental care more affordable by allowing greater use of dental therapists at a fraction of the costs of dentists.[32]  These steps, and real education about the need to decrease many kids’ extreme sugar diets, are better alternatives that address the root of the issue and protect the community from the risks of fluoridation chemicals. 


Portland Water Bureau documents show a fluoridation plant could cost up to $7.6 million, and that fluoridation chemical costs alone would be $500,000 a year.
But that’s just the start. While the Water Bureau and fluoridation promoters claim the rate increase would be small, the Water Bureau hasn’t estimated all the costs related to fluoridation, such as the damage costs that adding corrosive fluorosilicic acid would have on the water system. Increased maintenance costs are part of the reason Sacramento, CA has projected that fluoridation will cost ratepayers up to $48 million over the next 20 years.[33]
The Bureau’s cost estimates also ignore the fact that 40% of those buying Portland water live outside city limits and would not likely have to pay for fluoridation costs since their cities are under long-term water contracts.[34]
This could leave Portland voters paying all of the fluoridation costs for a water system that serves over 350,000 people living outside the City.[35]  Finally, the Water Bureau has admitted that its cost estimates don’t include potential capital improvements related to water fluoridation that could further increase water rates.[36]


[1] City of Portland Water Bureau, Cost to Implement Fluoridation, June 8, 2012. On file; “Fluoride

group secures second vote on Portland City Council for $5 million project,” Oregonian, Aug. 16, 2012 (confirming use of Fluorosilicic acid). (oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2012/08/fluoride_group_secures_second.html)

[2]   National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, “Fluoride in Drinking Water,” 2006 at p. 15.  On-line at: www.nap.edu/catalog/11571.html

[3] Oregonians Long Skeptical of Fluoridation. The Register-Guard, July 27, 2004; page C1 (see online: http://www.fluoridealert.org/Alert/United-States/Oregon/Oregonians-long-skeptical-of-fluoridation.aspx)

[4]  FSA is highly acidic with a pH of 1.  www.cleartech.ca/msds/sillyacid.pdf;

[5]  FDA letter Sen. John Heinz, Oct 1990. http://www.fluoridealert.org/researchers/fda/drug/

[6]  NSF Fact Sheet on Fluoridation Chemicals, June 2012, as cited and linked to by U.S. Centers for Disease Control website, Water Fluoridation Additives, Measured Levels of Impurities. See http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/fact_sheets/engineering/wfadditives.htm#2

[7] NSF Fact Sheet on Fluoridation Chemicals, June 2012, as cited and linked to by U.S. Centers for Disease Control website, Water Fluoridation Additives, Measured Levels of Impurities. See http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/fact_sheets/engineering/wfadditives.htm#2

[9]  National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, “Fluoride in Drinking Water,” 2006 at p. 16.  On-line at: www.nap.edu/catalog/11571.html

[10]  National Research Council/National Academy of Science, Fluoride in Drinking Water, 2006, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11571

[11]  National Research Council/National Academy of Science, Fluoride in Drinking Water, 2006, at 222, 197, 336. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11571

[12]  U.S. Lowers Limits for Fluoride in Water, Reuters, Jan 7, 2011.  http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/08/us-usa-fluoride-idUSTRE7064CM20110108

[13]  CDC Overview: Infant Formula and Fluorosis http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/safety/infant_formula.htm

[14]  Choi AL, et al (2012). Developmental fluoride neurotoxicity: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”. Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Oct;120(10):1362-8.

[15]  Co-author Dr. Grandjean editor  Brain Drain, braindrain.dk/about-this-site/

[16] Bassin, EB. “Age-specific fluoride exposure in drinking water and osteosarcoma,” Cancer Causes Control. May;17(4):421-8 (2006) Weblink:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16596294

[17]  Prevalence and severity of dental fluorosis in the United States, 1999-2004. www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db53.htm

[18]  Brunelle JA, “Recent trends in dental caries in U.S. children and the effect of water fluoridation”J Dent Res.  Vol: 69; 723-72 (1990)

[19]  Tooth Decay Trends in Fluoridated vs. Unfluoridated Countries, http://www.fluoridealert.org/studies/caries01/

[20]  KENS TV 5, Nov. 22, 2011

[22]  Fluoride Action Network, http://www.fluoridealert.org/content/europe-statements/

[23]  Oregon Dept. Health and Human Services, 2007 Smile Survey, p.12.  public.health.oregon.gov/PreventionWellness/ oralhealth/Documents/smile_2007.pdf   (Showing Portland Metro area has a 21% untreated decay rate rate)

[26]  United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2002, Table 23.  See at


[27]  CDC Overview: Infant Formula and Fluorosis http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/safety/infant_formula.htm

[28]  Racial and Ethnic Differences in Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration, by State --- National Immunization Survey, United States, 2004—2008 (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5911a2.htm)

[29]  FDA letter to U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, December 21, 2000  http://www.fluoridealert.org/researchers/fda/drug/

[30]  Damkaer DM, “Evidence for Fluoride Effects on Salmon Passage at John Day Dam, Columbia River, 1982—1986” North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 9:154-162 (1989).

[36]  "[t]he cost of any additional capital improvements needed to mitigate water quality impacts are not included in the estimated capital costs.” http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2012/08/fluoride_group_secures_second.html

Do you like this page?