Fluoridation issue debated in Gateway

BEFORE YOU VOTE – Read what representatives from both sides said about Portland’s plan to add fluoride to Bull Run water, at this business association meeting …

East Portland Parks advocate Linda Robinson introduces herself at April’s Gateway Area Business Association Meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In addition to the joyful banter and exuberant networking, members and guests at last month’s Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) meeting witnessed civil, knowledgeable presentations regarding Portland’s water fluoridation referendum, Measure 26-151.

Before the April 11 meeting got underway, many members purchased a hot lunch from the Cherry Blossom Center Loaves & Fishes Meals on Wheels kitchen, located in the East Portland Community Center.

GABA Fun-O-Rama promoter Dean Wiest of Wholesale Printing USA, and GABA President Fred Sanchez from Realty Brokers, pitch the organization’s upcoming festival.

GABA Program Chair Maggie Nelson introduces the afternoon’s program: A forum regarding Portland’s water fluoridation referendum, Measure 26-151.

Fluoridation of Portland’s Bull Run water could start as soon as March of 2014, according to city documents, if Measure 26-151 passes at the May 21 Special Election, attendees learned.

Both sides of the issue were present to be heard, said GABA Program Chair Maggie Nelson, as she introduced Dr. Virginia Feldman, speaking in favor of water fluoridation; and, and Dr. Char Glenn and Rick North who expressed an opposing view. Nelson also served as timekeeper. She adroitly gave each side equal time – within 7 seconds of each other – for their presentations.

The following is a near full-text transcription; some statements were not clearly audible for lack of a public address system at the meeting.

Dr. Virginia Feldman speaks in favor of Portland’s
fluoride referendum, Measure 26-151

Dr. Virginia Feldman advocates fluoridating of Portland’s drinking water.

“I personally started studying fluoride in the six months before I was born, because that’s when the City of Chicago started fluoridating its water.  I intellectually and scientifically started when I came here 40 years ago, to Portland. I have looked at the study of fluoridation, ever since, in my pediatric practice.

“Let’s have a little fun with this not-so-fun topic, Measure 26-151. You’ve heard of ‘Pascal’s Wager?’ Pascal is the guy who first invented a mechanical calculator.  He made a wager, the basis of modern day game theory, ‘If there is a God, believing in him will get you into Heaven. But not believing in him, well, you are toast. And if there is no God, nothing really matters anyway.’

“Let me compare this to the fluoridation issue.  You should bet on my 40 years of studying more than 2,000 years of articles? I actually read them, unlike many opponents.  Organizations, 106 of them locally, and every medical organization and health organization in the United States, and in Europe, and in Australia support water fluoridation.

Dr. Feldman reads a list of businesses and organizations she says supports drinking water fluoridation.

“Businesses are behind us too, she added, including many business associations and organizations.

“If you ‘bet’ on fluoridation, you’ll get all of these goodies,” said Feldman, as she held up a flyer listing the benefits of fluoridation. [See the end of this article for more information.]

“For every one dollar you spend on fluoridation, you gain $38 in dental cost [reduction] later on. Recent studies from Alaska, Illinois, Nebraska, and Australia comparing fluoridated to non-fluoridated areas, show a 25% reduction in cavities [in fluoridated areas] when controlling for everything else .

“And, fluoridation will stretch your tax dollars.  In 2005, Colorado saved $149 million in their fluoridated areas.” Feldman did not say how these tax dollars were saved.

Dr. Feldman passed around a sheet of photos of people whose teeth were clearly in poor condition.

“In Louisiana, look at these rotten teeth – these are pictures of severe caries, rotten teeth all over, which I see constantly up at OHSU – [dental disease so severe that] you require anesthesia to repair [it]. [Dental disease was reduced] by two-thirds in Florida, in fluoridated areas.

Medical care costs are reduced because of drinking water fluoridation, Dr. Virginia Feldman says.

“All these savings are one reason the major medical organizations and health insurance companies in this area support fluoridation. Health insurance companies only make money if they keep you healthy – so you’d better believe that they studied all of these statistics really well.

“In Oregon, we need these savings – we rank 45th in nation for kids with untreated tooth decay. We have low dental insurance, and we’re 48th in the nation [in sections of the state] with fluoridated water.

“Things are worse now than they were in 2002 in Oregon. Even with the same fluoridated toothpaste, I keep telling my patients to brush and floss.  In Portland there are better statistics.  However, one in five of our kids are [is] still having untreated cavities.

“So what is this fluoride? It’s not a fluorine, its fluoride.  And at the recommended dose, 0.7 ppm, it binds the tooth enamel and makes it stronger and more resistant to bacteria breakthrough when we consume that sugar that we love to eat.  My doctor tells me not to eat it, but I [do] anyway.

“So, overwhelming evidence, recently reviewed by the US Task force on Community Preventive Services [perhaps she intended to say U.S. Preventive Services Task Force] states that the most effective and cost-effective way to get fluoride is via drinking water.  Better than toothpaste, better than the school fluoride pills, and vastly cheaper than fluoride varnish.

“Bull Run water actually has fluoride, just not enough to prevent cavities. I’m an athlete and a diabetic; I drink a lot of water.  But, at 0.7 ppm, you have to drink a hundred glasses of water today to get to the lower end of [it being] toxic.

“2010 study showed that mild fluorosis of teeth is not bad.”

Editor’s Note: Dental fluorosis, also called mottling of tooth enamel, is a described as a developmental disturbance of dental enamel caused by excessive exposure to high concentrations of fluoride during tooth development.

“Here in the Portland metro [area], [on some days] 750 kids needed urgent treatment for dental pain. How many kids plug up our emergency rooms with this? My opponents say we are better than everyone else in Oregon.  But being better than everyone else in Oregon is not good enough. We have to stop this.

“My opponents say, we don’t have as much rampant decay.  But we have three times the amount of rampant tooth decay in our poor kids. We need protection. Taking care of one cavity costs $2,000 in lifetime dental care. That’s why Medicare loves fluoridation.

“My granddaughter brushes every day, and she lives in Portland, and had her first cavity at age 2.

“I urge you to go along with all of these organizations to support the measure.  If you don’t, you’ll have all of these minority kids with 12 times more missed days at school.

You can get [many] health benefits for $.61 for your employees. And, of course, the most important people who support fluoridation are our Portland beer makers. We can still make great beer [with water] fluoridation.

Dr. Feldman shows chemicals she says are put into Portland’s drinking water.

“So who should you bet on?  The Surgeon General of the United States?  We already put chemicals in our water – chlorine, ammonia, lye, in minute concentrations, yes because in big concentrations they can be dangerous.  But in little concentrations they are very safe.

“[Fluoride] is not a waste product. It’s made in a way that is supervised very carefully.  Sodium fluoride [in toothpaste] is not as safe as Sodium fluorosilicate.

“Talk to water engineers and they will tell you there’s not a lot of extra arsenic [added to water by fluoride treatment]. My opponents stress [the added] arsenic.  There’s more arsenic in two pears then you would get in an entire year from any water fluoridation project in the world. Salmon live in the Ocean were the fluoride is much higher in concentration than with [drinking water] fluoridation.  So, all the environmental issues they bring up are not really an issue.

“I would not dream of exposing my granddaughter to any dangers.  After reading all the studies, and [speaking with] all these experts making all these reports, I recommend fluoridation.  Thank you,” Dr. Feldman concluded.

Dr. Char Glenn and Rick North speak against
Portland’s fluoride referendum, Measure 26-151

Dr. Char Glenn advocates against fluoridating Portland’s drinking water.

“I’m Dr. Char Glenn, and my medical focus on prevention,” she begins, holding up a book.

“This book, ‘Fluoride in Drinking Water’ [available for free online reading] addresses higher levels of fluoride intake; it cuts about the whole spectrum of fluoride.

“I’m concerned about a lot of my patients, now that I have read this book.

“A patient came to me with pain in the legs, and in the hands. It took a long time to figure it out. The person was not able to do the work because they have so much pain.  Neurologists found that the individual had a high level of arsenic in the body. The patient was exposed to it in high levels. When he got away from arsenic exposure, his body started to get better.

“I advised that patient to reduce his intake of arsenic from any source.

“I got thinking about people who do not have enough ‘good’ minerals that we need.  I run into a lot of people who have nutritional problems – either from how they are eating, or they have disease or other problems – they do not have enough minerals like iodine and selenium and they start developing thyroid problems.

Holding a copy of a book she says is filled with factual reference material about drinking water fluoridating is Dr. Glenn.

“In this book, it is well documented that people who are low on iodine and selenium – that fluoride will interfere with their heart function.  We have a 5% of the population that is at risk.

“And, about 16% of people in our country have chronic kidney disease. Those [who] have this increased risk are advised not to increase their intake of fluoride in their bodies, because their kidneys cannot get rid of it,” Dr. Glenn concluded.

Rick North advocates against drinking water fluoridation.

A second speaker, Rick North, said he was the former CEO of the Oregon American Cancer Society, former Project Director of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Campaign for Safe Food.

“I used to be in favor of fluoridation, in fact, for most of my life. And then somebody asked me, about five years ago, to look at the science associated with fluoridation. I was amazed, and concerned, by what I found, looking at the arguments on both sides.

“I found out that there were many health risks associated with fluoridation.  I found that protecting teeth was only a very small part of the story.  The health risks were the bigger part.”

Holding up a flyer, North said the benefit of adding fluoride was preventing tooth decay. He then ticked off “Risks to Health”:

  • Bone Cancer
  • Bone Fractures
  • Brain Function – lowered IQ
  • Dental Fluorosis
  • Diabetes
  • Endocrine System disruption
  • Kidney Disease
  • Thyroid Disease


“When you see all of the risks – these were identified by the most authoritative comprehensive report that was put together on fluoridation – it makes one think about adding this to our drinking water. Every one of these risks is a ‘definite risk’ – not just a ‘small risk’ or ‘potential risk’.”

Addressing Dr. Feldman directly, North said, “There are so many topics that you put out that I could counter, but I can’t possibly do that in a very short time that we have. I’m just going to concentrate on one.

“[Dr. Feldman] said every major health organization in the country, and in the world, supports fluoridation.

“But, consider the facts: The American Cancer Society does not endorse fluoridation.  The American Diabetes Association does not support the fluoridation. Endocrine System Society does not support fluoridation.  The National Kidney Foundation does not support fluoridation.  The American Dietetic Association does not support fluoridation.”

Pointing out that Dr. Feldman unrolled a list of organizations she said supports their argument, North continued, “Folks, doing research, I found the most amazing thing.  The United States is in this ‘little bubble’ of fluoridation, throughout the world.

“Look it Europe – take a look at their health registries: Five countries out of 48 in Europe have fluoridated water. That’s it. What they’re saying, in their letters, is that they have medical concerns.  And, they have effectiveness concerns – because [drinking water] fluoridation is really not effective [for preventing tooth decay].

“And, they have ethical concerns as well – about putting a drug – and make no mistake, this is a drug regulated by the FDA – into the water supply system.

The dose makes the poison,” Mr. North asserts.

“As with most drugs, ‘the dose makes the poison’. Fluoride has definitely-known side effects. ‘The dose makes the poison’.

“Higher doses harm the human body. When they put a drug in drinking water, you can’t control the amount people drink. If you can’t control the amount of people drink – you cannot control the ‘dose of the drug’, and thus, you cannot control the harm.

“This entire concept is simply out of whack. This is a chemical. If this chemical that they want to put in our water was not sold to municipalities, it would have to be put into a hazardous waste facility.  It is considered a hazardous waste – because it is so corrosive, and it has to high levels of both lead and arsenic.

“Are there other sources of arsenic?  Sure. But it is the ‘toxic load’ we’re worried about. We urge you to vote ‘No’ on Measure 26-151,” North concluded.

> To view the website promoting Measure 26-151, CLICK HERE.

> To view the website against Measure 26-151, CLICK HERE.

Learn about the GABA Fun-O-Rama on May 9

Deborah Higa of Community Works Project pitches tickets for the big GABA Fun-O-Rama raffle.

The Gateway Area Business Association again meets on May 9 at 11:30 a.m. This month, it’s all about the upcoming FUN-0-RAMA Parade and Fair coming up on May 18.

You’ll find them meeting the Loaves and Fishes Center; 740 SE 106th Avenue (in the East Portland Community Center, between SE Stark Street and Cherry Blossom Drive) in outer East Portland. Lunch is available for an $8.00 suggested donation. For more information, see their all-new website: CLICK HERE.

> On the front page: Colm Boer, Branch Manager, Wells Fargo 122nd/Halsey, is presented with the honorary GABA Rubber Chicken Award by GABA President Fred Sanchez.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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