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Phoenix, Portland and Milwaukee city councils opt for fluoridation

Phoenix—A Phoenix City Council subcommittee Sept. 11 affirmed the policy of fluoridating the drinking water of the city’s 1.4 million residents.

The Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee heard some two hours of testimony from pro- and antifluoridation advocates before deciding not to vote on the issue or send it to the full city council.

“The members of the city council should be applauded for making their decision based on the best science,” said Dr. Gary Jones of Mesa, Ariz., president of the Arizona Dental Association. “Now the thousands and thousands of citizens of the city of Phoenix will continue to receive this valuable public health benefit.” 

Dr. Donald Altman, AzDA member and Phoenix public health dentist, told the subcommittee that more than “3,000 studies on community water fluoridation have shown that it is a safe, cost-effective and healthy way to prevent dental decay in children and adults.”

Other experts who addressed the subcommittee in support of fluoridation included Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services; Dr. Howard Pollick, clinical professor at the University of California San Francisco, consultant to the National Fluoridation Advisory Committee and an ADA spokesperson on fluoridation; and Dr. Jack Dillenberg, dean of the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health in Mesa.

According to article posted on the Arizona Republic News website Sept. 11, Councilwoman Thelda Williams said the medical community provided sufficient evidence to show that adding fluoride to water has a public health benefit. “I just feel very strongly that I think what we’re doing is the right thing to do,” Ms. Williams said. “I think public health is the responsibility of government.”

At press time, the ADA News learned that the Portland, Ore., city council voted 5-0 Sept. 12 to fluoridate the city’s water supply.

The city council directed that the Portland Water Bureau “devise and implement a program to fluoridate the City of Portland’s public drinking water supply to the optimal levels beneficial to reduce tooth decay and promote good oral health as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Oregon Health Authority.”

The ordinance calls for Portland to offer fluoridated water to some 900,000 residents in the city and surrounding communities by March 1, 2013. Portland is currently the second largest unfluoridated city in the U.S.  

On Sept. 6, more than 200 people addressed the Portland City Council during a six-hour public hearing on the initiation of fluoridation.

In the Midwest, the Milwaukee Common Council voted July 24 to continue fluoridating the city’s water supply but to lower its fluoride level to 0.7 milligrams per liter, matching the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services new proposed fluoride level. For more details, visit ada.org/news/7455.aspx.