April 22, 2019

Archives for September 11, 2012

Brewer’s ‘Daily Dose’ 11-Sep-2012

Fluoridation decision is too quick for Portland

By: Eriks Zarins, Oregonlive.com, Portland, Oregon 11-Sep-2012

American philosopher John Dewey believed the key to solving societal problems was the “scientific approach.” Aspects include being critical and objective, and drawing conclusions based on the whole of the evidence instead of selectively choosing only the evidence that will support a conclusion already made.

The present debate about whether or not to add fluoride to Portland’s water supply could benefit from Dewey’s suggestion. This not only applies to the various claims being made about the adding of fluoride, but also to the process of determining that policy.

My personal background is in this second area. I have been involved in numerous local civic matters over the years and have studied theories of democracy. It seems to me that many supporters of adding fluoride feel a lengthy debate is rather unnecessary; the evidence too overwhelming. I disagree. I have seen “experts” miss things and make mistakes. So, I believe more time and effort on this is in everyone’s best interest.

I have a few ideas that I think can help. First, the decision to add fluoride to Portland’s water should be made by the next City Council and not the current one. Not only would this allow more time for debate, but it would also give voters an opportunity to quiz the candidates for mayor and City Council before the November vote.

Second, more time and effort needs to be spent on the issue of freedom of choice. This is important.

Third, to solve the problem of high rates of tooth decay, other approaches should be pushed first. I have not seen a dentist in about a decade, and yet my teeth are in fairly good shape. Why? Probably it’s because I brush my teeth with fluoridated toothpaste usually at least five times a day, plus I floss. Why don’t we start a high-profile campaign to promote these practices, especially to children? Such an effort could include a cartoon superhero wielding with a large toothbrush with paste and a slogan like “After sweets, save your teeth!”

As a society, we need to change our mindset with regard to assertive dental health practices. Earlier this year, after eating my lunch at a local mall’s food court, I went to the mall’s nearby men’s room to brush my teeth. As I brushed, a voice to my right said: “Sir, you can’t brush your teeth here.” I turned to the young security guard who had said those words and asked, “Really?”

He explained that people could use the toilet facilities and wash their hands, but nothing else. We need to get shopping malls and other institutions to encourage teeth brushing, not discourage it.

“Other cities are doing it, so that means we should do it too” is not a good enough reason for us to start fluoridating our water. We are Portland. Let others follow our lead after we come up with an effective, freedom-of-choice-respecting solution to our high rates of tooth decay.



In clash over fluoride, Oregon’s Portland weighs cost of dental health and freedom of choice

By: Steven Dubois, The Associated Press, MontrealGazette.com, 11-Sep-2012

Portland is the largest city in the U.S. yet to approve water fluoridation to combat tooth decay, a distinction that could change on Wednesday when the city council votes on an issue that is dividing residents of the liberal haven.

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

The issue in Portland 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,” Mayor Sam Adams 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 per cent of the U.S. population drinks water treated with fluoride, the rate is less than 25 per cent in Oregon.

The ordinance to be voted on Wednesday calls for the water to be fluoridated by March 2014. The mayor and two city commissioners have announced their support, ensuring a majority on the five-member panel.

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 1/2 hours. Sixty-one per cent opposed fluoridation.

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

A 2007 report from the state Department of Human Services said 35 per cent of Oregon first-through-third graders had untreated dental decay, a higher percentage than in neighbouring states with more fluoridation.

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.


Group asks city to rid water supply of fluoride

By: Ian Cobb, e-KNOW.ca, Cranbrook, British Columbia 11-Sep-2012 – The City of Cranbrook is going to look into the pros and cons of fluoride being added to its water supply, which it has been doing for more than 40 years.

Council heard from a two-person delegation last night (Sept. 10) asking the city to cease and desist adding fluoride.

Brian Kostiuk and Brad Brehm, appearing as representatives of ‘We Are Change Cranbrook,’ informed council that fluoride is a dangerous substance and should not be added to a municipal water supply.

“Fluoride is not what it’s put out to be,” Kostiuk said, adding it is one of the most corrosive substances going.

“We’re not here to debate the effectiveness of fluoride in dental use and toothpaste,” Brehm added, only to ask for the cessation of its use in the city supply.

“Many people consider fluoride as a toxic substance,” he said, noting he is expecting his second child (potentially that evening) and he didn’t want him being exposed to fluoride.

If fluoride was dropped into a water body in powdered form by an individual, that person “has violated the law,” he said, alluding to higher levels of government showing awareness of the dangers posed by hydrofluorosilicic acid. Most American municipalities have banned its use, the duo noted.

Additionally, only five per cent of B.C. municipalities still apply fluoride to their water supplies, Kostiuk said, pointing out that Vancouver stopped using it in 1960 and Kelowna in 1996.

“There are numerous, numerous communities that have reversed their decision on fluoride,” Brehm said. “We don’t believe fluoride is required to be added to our water supply. It’s mass medication.”

It isn’t recommended for infant formula or toothpaste, he continued, asking, “Why is that? Is there any study you can provide us” that shows benefits?

Brehm pushed that Cranbrook residents have “no freedom to choose” if they want fluoride in their water, for their sake of their teeth – the reason the acid was added to water supplies in the first place. Studies he’s seen focus on “topical application and not ingesting it,” he said, pointing out that dentists tell patients to spit out fluoride treatments and one isn’t supposed to swallow toothpaste containing fluoride.

Council members thanked the two men for appearing before them and presenting so much information.

“You are forcing us to think about something. It’s guys like you who are going to make changes in the world,” stated Coun. Angus Davis.

“This is exactly the kind of questions we need to look at as a council,” said Mayor Wayne Stetski, adding he’d like to hear from a dentist about fluoride.

Coun. Bob Whetham suggested “times were different and assumptions were made” when fluoride was first added to Cranbrook’s water, adding it is an optional application the city undertakes.

“I’ve certainly heard many people say they don’t want their water tampered with but I am not sure of the level” of community concern, he said.

Stetski wondered if the city wasn’t doing lower income residents a favour by adding fluoride, as they tend to not be able to attend the dentist on a regular basis, or if at all. He also guessed that the city spends about $30,000 a year to apply fluoride to its water system.

Brehm replied that he’d be in favour of the city spending that money “a different application” of fluoride for lower income families.

Among the thick package of information provided to the city by the two men is a letter from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment that notes it does not support the application of fluoride to drinking water.

Click to here to see the bulk of the information provided: https://cranbrook.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=2477