The City Club of Portland has been trying to get fluoride into the city's drinking water for almost 60 years. So the central conclusion of a report the club sent to media outlets Wednesday—with strict instructions it wasn't to be reported on until this morning—comes as no surprise: the City Club still wants our water to have fluoride.
At least, one of its committees does.
"The general scientific consensus and 65 years of experience in other communities demonstrate that fluoride is safe at the recommended level that will be implemented in Portland's water supply," reads a majority recommendation from the committee that authored the document, "and that it is an effective way to reduce dental cavities and to promote dental health in an equitable manner."
As with anything surrounding this bitterly contentious debate, though, the matter is not so clear cut. The report also contains a minority opinion.
"The minority feels that fluoridating the public water supply will be done without the informed consent of some portion of the Portland population," the report reads. "Further the minority believes that fluoride, used to reduce cavities, is best administered in a doctor's or dentist's office."
The club will take a formal stance on the issue later this month.
Meanwhile, Measure 26-151—which would authorize fluoridation of the water supply—will be decided by voters on May 21. Council first approved fluoridation in September, but opponents gathered enough signatures to put the matter on a ballot.
If approved, fluoridation would cost roughly $5 million to implement—paid with water rates—with significant yearly expenses after.
Proponents say it's an effective way of raising the city's overall dental health, and is particularly vital for low-income adults and children.
Opponents fear the mineral could have adverse health effects, and contend Portland's water is fine the way it is.
The City Club took pains to insist Mayor Sam Adams, now the group's executive director, had nothing to do with the report.
"Due to Sam’s work on fluoridation as Mayor, Sam has had no involvement with the committee, their research, or the report," Policy Director Greg Wallinger said in an e-mail. "He physically recused himself from the Board of Governors discussion and vote on the report."
It's not like they'd need Adams' encouragement. The report details five previous efforts by the club to get fluoride into the city's water supply. They date back to 1956, when a host of American cities were following the example of early fluoridator Grand Rapids, Mich.
Here, a helpful chart from the report about the effects of oral disease:
- City Club of Portland