By Gena Delaney

At a recent community presentation in SE, Portland dentist Dr. Jay Levy gave the crowd some advice many did not expect:  water fluoridation presents real health risks, and there are much better ways to help kid’s teeth than adding fluoridation chemicals to their water.  “Portland has some of the best drinking water in the world, and the best available science today supports that adding fluoridation chemicals to our water would pose real risks and offer little to no benefit,” said Dr. Levy.

With ballots that will decide whether Portland fluoridates its water set to be mailed in less than five weeks, the controversial fight over water fluoridation is heating up. Clean Water Portland is leading the campaign opposing fluoridation and the increased Portland Water Bureau rates that would pay for it. They have a campaign office on SE 11th and Madison St. which has become a hub of campaign activity.

“Like so many chemicals we thought were safe, the current scientific evidence takes what we thought we knew about water fluoridation and turns it on its head,” says Dr. Levy, who has a dental practice in downtown Portland.

“Study after study from highly credible scientific organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences and Harvard School of Public Health now suggest that fluoridation poses real health risks, especially to children. The chemical shortcut of fluoridation has few benefits since we now know fluoride works topically, and there’s little to no benefit to swallowing it.”

Levy and other local health practitioners say recent studies of fluoride risks link threats ranging from decreased IQ and increased risks of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in children, to impacts on the thyroid and increased risks of bone fractures in the elderly.  “If we really want to help kid’s teeth, then we have to increase access to preventative dental care and address out-of-control sugar diets,” he explained.

SE Portland acupuncturist Al Thieme is the Legislative Director for the Oregon Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, which represents Oregon’s acupuncturists and recently voted to oppose the Portland fluoridation measure. “There’s a reason your toothpaste tube says ‘do not swallow,’” says Thieme. “There is now a critical mass of studies from top researchers finding real health risks from fluoride in drinking water. There has really been a shift in the scientific understanding about fluoridation, but its always takes a while for general awareness to catch up,” says Thieme.

Part of Clean Water Portland’s objection to fluoridation is that the chemical that the City of Portland has said it would use to fluoridate is called fluorosilicic acid, which is an unpurified byproduct of fertilizer manufacturing.

“When I first learned about this issue, I thought that there was no way we would consider adding an industrial byproduct to our drinking water,” explains Thieme, “but it turns out this is not even disputed by the fluoridation promoters. They like to call fluorosilicic acid a ‘co-product’ or a ‘mineral’ instead of a chemical byproduct, but it doesn’t change the fact that fluorosilicic acid is not the pharmaceutical grade fluoride in toothpaste, and even the CDC admits that 43% of all fluoridation chemicals contain arsenic.”

To learn more visit: cleanwaterportland.org .