At the end of 2012, Portland city council members met behind closed doors in an attempt to pass a public water fluoridation mandate. When word of the council’s plan leaked, citizens sprang into action, collecting an unprecedented 400,000+ signatures to bring the controversial decision to the public for a vote. Six months have passed since that time, and we’re happy to announce that the residents of Portland have successfully voted to keep public water free of fluoride.
The victory is largely credited to organization Clean Water Portland, an awareness movement dedicated to spreading knowledge for the toxicity of fluoride and potential dangers of fluoridation programs. It was no small victory, however. With a high profile public relations firm, an estimated $1 million budget, and support from city council, the pro-fluoride lobby seemed to have every advantage needed to quickly close a victory. Against all odds, fluoride-free advocates prevailed, protecting more than 500,000 residents from the potentially toxic mineral.
So, what can we learn about Portland’s recent underdog victory against the pro-fluoride lobby?
3 Lessons to Learn from Portland’s Fluoride-Free Victory
1. Scientific data indicates that fluoride is toxic and potentially harmful.
Scientific data is one of the biggest advantages used by Portland’s fluoride-free movement. Around the world, leading scientists and research institutions are increasingly producing evidence that fluoride is toxic and potentially dangerous to public health. A few important facts to consider include:
- Fluoride has been shown to accumulate in the soft tissue of the Pineal Gland, resulting in sleeping difficulties while also disrupting the normal onset of puberty in young boys and girls (i).
- More than 40% of American children ages 12-15 suffer with fluorosis, a condition in which overexposure to fluoride causes a permanent discoloration of tooth enamel (ii).
- Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have stated fluoride exposure might cause “chemical brain drain” similar to lead, mercury, and other poisons (iii).
2. The pro-fluoride lobby engaged in deceptive awareness campaigns to scare people into demanding fluoridated water.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time pro-fluoride lobbyists have manipulated the public into believing fluoridated water is necessary. Earlier this year, the citizens of Wichita, Kansas, faced a similar battle to keep public water free of fluoride. Backed by organizations like the American Dental Association (ADA) and PEW, the pro-fluoride lobby engaged in a deceptive awareness campaign in which citizens were misinformed about the toxicity of fluoride.
Specifically, the local Wichita Eagle newspaper urged residents to ignore a study from the Harvard School of Public Health on the toxicity of fluoride, writing:
“Harvard university scientists say Wichita voters shouldn’t depend on a research study they compiled to decide whether to put fluoride in the city’s drinking water to fight tooth decay,” (iv).
In fact, Philippe Grandjean, Professor of Environmental Health at Harvard, actually stated, “Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain,” (v). The Wichita Eagle has since revoked their original publication, clarifying that Harvard researchers never issued such a statement.
The pro-fluoride lobby engaged in similarly deceptive practices in Portland, this time flooding local radio stations and online social networks like YouTube with claims that Oregon has an “untreated tooth decay rate of 40%,” (vi). While that statistic is true, the pro-fluoride lobby omitted an even more important statistic: The fluoride-free community of Portland has a tooth decay rate of just 20%, approximately half that of the entire state (vii).
3. Never underestimate the power of a grass roots movement.
Perhaps the most important and inspiring lesson to learn from Portland’s victory against the pro-fluoride lobby is to never underestimate the power of a grass roots movement. On paper, the pro-fluoride lobby clearly had Portland’s fluoride-free advocates outmatched. Yet the citizens of Portland rallied, gathering more than 400,000 signatures in 29 days just to earn the right to vote on the fluoride mandate via public referendum. As awareness for the issue spread, fluoride-free advocates grew in both numbers and influence, relying on hard scientific data to motivate citizens to vote “No” on the fluoride proposal by a margin of more than 3-to-2 (viii).
Fluoride Free Dentistry at Assure A Smile
Assure a Smile practices holistic dentistry, a minimally invasive approach that views the teeth and gums as representative of total body health. Our dental treatments use only safe, bio-compatible materials and are “fluoride-free” procedures.
To learn more about holistic dentistry, schedule an appointment with Assure a Smile online or call our friendly front desk at 305-274-0047.
(i) Luke, Jennifer M.D. Fluoride Deposition in the Aged Human Pineal Gland. International Center for Nutritional Research, Inc. ICNR.com.
(ii) “Government Advises Less Fluoride in Water.” Wall Street Journal. Accessed 30 November 2010.
(iii) “Impact of Fluoride on Neurological Development of Children.” Harvard School of Public Health. Accessed 29 May 2013.
(iv) “Harvard Scientists: Data on fluoride, IQ not Applicable in U.S.” The Wichita Eagle. Accessed 19 March 2013.
(v) “Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA Standards.” National Academy of Sciences. Accessed 28 May 2013.
(vi) “Rebel Portland: Clean Water Warriors Claim Victory.” Mismanaging Perception. Accessed 3 June 2013.
(vii) See above.
(viii) “Portland Uses Science and Integrity to Defeat Fluoridation.” Fluoride Action Network. Accessed 28 May 2013.