The Portland City Council voted 5-0 on Wednesday to add fluoride to it’s drinking water.  The Portland City Council voted 5-0 during a raucous public meeting Wednesday morning to add fluoride to Portland’s drinking water, ending the city’s status as the only major U.S. city that hasn’t approved fluoridation.  The unanimous decision — affecting about 900,000 residents in Portland, Gresham, Tigard and Tualatin — followed a nearly seven-hour hearing Sept. 6 in which people on both sides of the issue traded statistics and made impassioned pleas. Some argued that fluoride effectively fights tooth decay, for example, while others characterized fluoridation as forced medication.

But not so fast there Trigger!! Anti-fluoride activists have launched an initiative to put the issue to public vote with the argument that public water deserves public vote.  A referendum — which would directly challenge the city’s plan rather than seek a general ban on fluoride — needs about 20,000 valid signatures in 30 days to go forward.  Portlanders have voted against fluoridation three times, most recently in 1980. This time, opponents said they have 125 volunteers and expect to have 25 paid signature-gatherers. They declined to say how much money they expect to raise through their newly formed political-action committee, Clean Water Portland.

Some of the relevant arguments against public water fluoridation are who benefits from fluoride in the water, what is the risk of fluoride in the water, how can you opt out of fluoride exposure in public water sources, how much water must be consumed for a tangible benefit, how do we factor in environmental fluoride exposure, what is the cost to implement … and lastly, is fluoridating public drinking water mass medication for all of the public population?

Stayed tuned, the deal isn’t done and the fight isn’t over … yet!

Donald R. Dexter, Jr., DMD