Portland Rejects Fluoridation

In 2012, City Council tried to pass a measure to fluoridate the Portland water supply. The citizens petitioned to put it to a vote, enthusiastically collecting twice the number of required signatures to do so.

Yesterday, for the fourth time since the 1950s, Portland rejected fluoridating their water


Some folks think the debate is crazy. I think it’s good. 

Some folks were skeptical of fluoride’s effectiveness. Clean Water Portland launched a campaign against itSome folks just ranted.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland launched a campaign favoring of fluoride. Health care, organized labor and even minority groups came together to support fluorideThe Portland Mercury debunked the anti-fluoride faction’s concerns


Generally, I share the opinions of that Mercury article. The anti-fluoride sentiment is riddled with bullshit. The majority of the argument is based on junk science and leans too libertarian for my comfort.

That doesn’t mean I want fluoride in the water.

There’s nothing wrong with the water, so don’t mess with it.

There is something wrong with our dental hygiene. There is something wrong with our diets. I would propose hiring dedicated dental hygienists in schools and banning junk food and sodas throughout all of Portland. 

That’s pie-in-the-sky, romantic liberal socialism. No need to discuss the idea’s merits—it won’t happen in my lifetime. 

So, as a last resort, fluoride would serve as a social safety net. It’s not the best measure, but it’s something. And I can get behind that. 


Whether you’re for or against fluoridating the water, this debate was good for the city.

I feel a bit strange thinking it’s good that we fought so hard to do nothing. But the people weighed the issues and sussed it out. A lot of folks I know researched this issue more than they researched the last presidential race and considered the advantages of both sides in earnest. And while Portland didn’t vote for my preferred outcome, it did keep alive a tradition of antiestablishmentarianism. 


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