Fluoridate Portland’s water
By: Oregonlive.com, Portland, Oregon 14-Aug-2012
Drinking-water fluoridation, which doesn’t happen in Portland, deserves to be about as controversial as water chlorination, which does. Like chlorination, fluoridation prevents illness through the use of a substance you wouldn’t want to chug, and it occurs safely throughout the country. About 74 percent of Americans on community systems get fluoridated water. And even in Oregon, which has a comparatively low rate of fluoridation, more than 830,000 people drink treated water.
Of the 50 biggest cities in the United States, only a handful do not fluoridate their water, and the list could soon be smaller. Fluoride supporters in Wichita recently collected enough signatures to force the issue onto the City Council agenda.
Oddly, it doesn’t seem to matter that fluoridation is both safe and widespread, even in Oregon. The debate makes people nervous. The most recent push to fluoridate Portland’s water supply has been a quiet affair, and it’s not clear that even three of Portland’s commissioners will lend their support. That’s a shame, though there is reason for optimism. Members of the fluoridation coalition have meet with each of the commissioners or their chiefs of staff and “heard a lot of support,” says Mel Rader, co-director of Upstream Public Health, which belongs to the coalition pushing for fluoridation.
Elected officials are often less willing to express publicly what they say privately for fear of creating controversy. And a serious move to fluoridate drinking water here will receive fevered opposition, just as it has over the years in many places. City residents will be told that proponents want to lace their drinking water with toxic industrial waste. They’ll be directed to Internet sites claiming, among other things, that fluoridation could hurt kids’ brains, lower their IQs and compromise various other organs and glands.
To believe such crackpottery is implicitly to believe the following: That state and federal health agencies are, for some mysterious reason, hiding the truth and helping to poison more than 200 million citizens, aided by the American Dental Association and, we guess, credulous editorial boards like The Oregonian’s. While we don’t consider any of these groups infallible, or even close, it’s far more likely that fluoridation receives so much mainstream support because it does exactly what it’s supposed to. It reduces the incidence of cavities.
Opponents are right about one thing. Adding fluoride to water — as opposed to chlorine — isn’t necessary to make the water safe and is, rather, a way of administering passive medical treatment to people who may object. We understand that such an affront to personal choice is potentially infuriating, regardless of how beneficial the water additive might be.
But requiring people to receive medical treatment is nothing new, as any parent of a vaccinated child could tell you. And, depending upon the circumstances, it can be good public policy. That’s certainly the case for fluoridation, which protects vulnerable children from parental indifference and ignorance. It also protects taxpayers, who foot the bill when those same children visit the emergency room in dental agony. People who don’t think such things happen regularly should talk to some doctors and dentists.
In any case, the “F” word is in circulation, and Commissioner Randy Leonard has said he’s willing to back the effort as long as supporters line up two of his colleagues. That places the onus on Sam Adams, Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman. Are they going to save kids’ teeth and taxpayers’ money? Or are they going to hide beneath their chairs, stick their fingers in their ears and hope that the issue goes away?
Fluoride decision up to local councils
By: Tony Stickley, Cairns.Com.Au, Tablelands Region, Queensland, Australia 15-Aug-2012
Regional Council is still expecting to make its own decision on whether to fluoridate water supplies, despite the Queensland Government refusing to allow councils in other parts of the state to hold referendums on the issue.
Seven years ago, as mayor of Brisbane, Campbell Newman wrote to the then Premier, Peter Beattie, calling for a state-wide referendum on fluoridation.
But this week when questioned by the Townsville Bulletin, Mr Newman ruled out referendums for a number of councils, including Cassowary Coast and Charters Towers, which have to fluoridate their water by the end of the year.
He said many towns had since had fluoride added to their water.
Premier Newman added: “Certainly, we would not be removing it from any location where it exists already, but the idea of forcing certain communities right now to put it in and incur the cost, that is something I am more than happy to have a look at.”
TRC Mayor, Rosa Lee Long, said that accorded with the council’s view.
“Our understanding is that if they have never had fluoride, the State Government won’t force us to use it,” Cr Lee Long said yesterday.
Following earlier sympathetic noises from the Government, the council decided not to add fluoride to the Kuranda and Malanda water treatment plants by the July 11 deadline as required under the Fluoridation Act passed by the previous Labour government.
Atherton was due to have fluoride by the end of the year, with an upgrade costing $3.2 million.
Mareeba had its water fluoridated in the early 1970s but the plant needs replacing and has not been operational for the past three years.
Cr Lee Long said the Minister for Local Government, David Crisafulli, had said the people of Mareeba could choose to have fluoride or not.
She said that the council was conducting a survey at Mareeba which would be completed soon.
Cr Lee Long said the shortfall the ratepayers would have to pick up from a $1.2 million Mareeba upgrade, and the combined $1.6 million for Malanda and Kuranda was about $750,000. Ongoing yearly running costs for fluoridation of all four towns would be about $500,000.
A report to today’s TRC meeting says Queensland Health has told the council that it does not need to fluoridate Atherton’s water supply.