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Victory: Science and Integrity Defeat Big Fluoride in Portland
A broad coalition of Portlanders have resoundingly rejected fluoridation, by at least a 60-40 percent margin. In rejecting fluoridation, Portland voters agreed with the majority of western nations that there are safer, more effective and less intrusive ways to promote oral health than adding a chemical linked to thyroid disease, IQ loss and other ailments to the water supply, reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).
“We are proud of our Portland colleagues who used science and integrity to defeat fluoridation,” said Paul Connett, PhD, FAN's executive director.
Portland’s clean water campaign was spearheaded by Clean Water Portland (CWP), a broad coalition formed in August 2012 after a newspaper revealed secret ongoing fluoridation meetings with Portland City Council members that were illegally kept off the record. With virtually no public input, the city council mandated fluoridation for the city on Sept. 12. CWP then led an unprecedented effort that gathered over 40,000 signatures in less than 30 days to halt the mandate and force the referendum vote.
Fluoride chemicals are the only chemicals added to public water for the purpose of medication. Most western countries, including the vast majority of Europe, do not fluoridate their water.
“Most of Portland’s media falsely reported that fluoridation promoters had science on their side and that opponents used emotion,” said Connett. “Those opposed did their homework, relying on recent scientific findings from the National Research Council (NRC) and Harvard that raise serious questions about the safety of current fluoride exposures."
In 2006, the prestigious NRC warned that current fluoride exposures in the U.S. may increase the risk of thyroid disease, endocrine disruption, neurological disorders and bone damage–particularly among people who have medical conditions that increase their vulnerability to fluoride. The NRC called on scientists to investigate fluoride’s role in chronic disease, but government health authorities have opted against funding such research.
Portland’s vote comes just six months after voters in Wichita, KS soundly rejected fluoridation by a 20 percent margin, and follows close on the heels of an announcement this April that Israel will be ending its mandatory fluoridation program. In Ireland, legislation was proposed this spring that would make it a criminal offense to add fluoride to public water supplies, while in Canada, the number of people drinking fluoridated water has dropped by about 25 percent since 2008.
“The twenty-first century does not take well to anachronistic medical practices, and fluoridation is no exception. This is why more than 120 communities have rejected fluoridation over the past three years alone,” said FAN's Campaign Director, Stuart Cooper. "The trend is towards less fluoridation, not more."
In Portland, opposition to fluoridation included the regional Sierra Club, the Portland branch of the NAACP, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality employees union and more than 200 local medical professionals. National leaders also weighed in, including Ralph Nader, Lois Gibbs, John Stauber, Food and Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association and esteemed scientists Dr. Theo Colborn, Dr. William Hirzy and two members of the NRC's review.
The breadth of the coalition was reflected in polling data showing bipartisan opposition to fluoridation among Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, and overwhelming opposition among communities of color.
Voters who rejected fluoridation were concerned by research showing that low-income communities are at highest risk of fluoride’s adverse effects without any benefits. This fact was not lost on Portland’s low-income neighborhoods, which voted overwhelmingly against fluoridation.
Fluoridation proponents had a massive near-million dollar war chest. They used their nearly four to one funding advantage and media clout to flood Portland with misleading ads and editorials touting fluoridation as an urgently needed tool for solving the “dental crisis” in the city’s poor neighborhoods.
But there really wasn’t a dental crisis in Portland as the Oregon Department of Health’s own reports indicate. Fluoridationists tried to hide this inconvenient truth. The most recent Smile Survey shows that Portland children’s decay rates improved since five years ago without fluoridation and, in fact, are better than most fluoridated cites.
Furthermore, analysis of the 2012 Smile Survey showed that non-fluoridated places in Oregon like Portland actually had slightly fewer kids with dental decay than the fluoridated places.
“Fluoridationists had no evidence that any Portland child was fluoride-deficient; but did prove that some Portland children are dentist-deficient. We urge the legalization of Dental Therapists in Oregon who will treat the low-income children who dentists refuse to treat,” said Connett.
Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Julia Conley
Climate campaigners on Friday expressed hope that policymakers who are stalling on taking decisive climate action would reconsider their stance in light of new warnings from an unlikely source: two economists at J.P. Morgan Chase.
Tensions are continuing to rise in Canada over a controversial pipeline project as protesters enter their 12th day blockading railways, demonstrating on streets and highways, and paralyzing the nation's rail system
Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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