A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Back to the Sixties: Debating fluoridation

Written March 28th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

On Aug. 16, 1968, the Albany paper reported the results of a special election on fluoridation and a tax to support the police.

Fifty-four years after an election on fluoridation of the Albany drinking water supply, the issue is back before the city council.

Councilwoman Matilda Novak brought it up. On March 21, she said she understood that fluoridation had been approved years ago by ordinance, and now she wanted a new ordinance to reverse that decision.

Novak asked that the issue be placed on a future agenda. She’ll get her wish. Last week City Manager Peter Troedsson announced fluoridation will be before the council on April 27.

I emailed the councilwoman to ask what prompted her request.

“Early in March,” she said by email, “I was contacted by a constituent who expressed grave concerns over the fact that Albany’s water supply contains fluoride (which I’ve known for some time now to be a toxic substance),” she told me by email.

She added that she had shared with the rest of the council “data and information” in support of her point that fluoride may be harmful and should not be added to the water.

This is a question that has been debated over the decades.

In Albany, the debate raged back and forth in the 1960s, with several council votes, referrals to overturn the votes, and initiatives to overturn whatever had been decided last.

The question came to a head in a special election on Aug. 15, 1968, on a measure to uphold or overturn a council-passed ordinance against fluoridation. This was believed to be the seventh time the issue had been before the voters.

The result: Votes against the fluoridation ban — 943. Votes to keep banning fluoridation — 676.

The upshot was that Pacific Power & Light, which owned the water system then, said it would start adding fluoride to Albany water that December. The city continued the practice when it bought the system in 1984.

When Novak brought this up, Councilor Ray Kopczynski said he was 100 percent opposed to ending fluoridation. And Councilor Dick Olsen related how it had helped his children avoid tooth decay.

Chris Bailey, the public works director, reminded Novak that all she needed to get the council to order a stop to fluoridation was four votes. (hh)

Posted in: Commentary, News

36 responses to “Back to the Sixties: Debating fluoridation”

  1. MarK says:

    Let’s just hope the council seeks advice from knowledgeable people in public safety and/or health care professionals before making some knee jerk decision based on what could be “Chicken Little” mentality.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    City government should not have the coercive power to involuntarily mass medicate its residents.

    The prevention of tooth decay can be achieved by other means that allow for autonomous choice.

    This is classic paternalism. You know better than your local government what should or should not be voluntarily ingested into your body.

    • john marble says:

      Mr. Shadle, does your argument apply equally to the addition of chlorine to the public water supply?

      Just wondering.

      • Bob Woods says:


        • Gordon L. Shadle says:

          If you’re okay with medicating residents with fluoride, would you be okay with adding vitamins to the water supply?

          What about pain killers?

          They wouldn’t make the water safer for consumption, but just think of the health benefits.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        The purpose of adding chlorine is to make the water safer at the point of individual consumption.

        The purpose of fluoride is to medicate the individual consumer.

        Apples and oranges.

        Wouldn’t it be nice if the local water supply was chemical free?

        The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria have been able to implement water systems that operate without chlorine.

        Why can’t Albany?

  3. John Hartman says:

    From the CDC a website, on the matter of fluoridation of community water systems.

    “ In 2018, community water systems that contain enough fluoride to protect teeth served more than 200 million people or 73% of the US population.”

    Are we to take the proven experience of 200-million people, or are we more inclined to take the word of “a constituent with grave concerns.”

    If I were to contact a Councilor with a grave concern regarding Jewish Space Lasers, would that Councilor hop to and propose a ban on such devices?

    The science on water fluoridation is well understood and has been thoroughly examined for decades. Perhaps Novak ought to simply say a few reassuring words to her concerned constituent and not waste City Council sessions on this issue.

    No, Councilor Novak…the Commies are not poisoning Americans with fluoride, and No, Councilor Novak…Biden did not steal the election…and no, Councilor Novak, the democrats are not operating a child abuse operation in Cidici’s basement. Get serious about your job or walk away.

  4. Rhea Graham says:

    Councilor Novak is 100% right, it is a toxin that is added to our water and shouldn’t be. Let the truth be told!

    • centrist says:

      It’s not toxic at the concentration delivered. Many parts of our diet (say salt, sugar, ethanol) are well-tolerated at modest doses, but turn deadly at higher ones.

  5. James Engel says:

    Back to the dark ages with Matilda. Why even filter our water then Matilda? This is the U s of A, not your parents backwoods Europe girl. When you had Neanderthal Russian Communists dentists to work on your teeth. Prevention beats a dentists drill anytime!! Are you so left liberal that evidence doesn’t persuade you?? I avoid your restaurant because of your actions on the council & tell my friends to do the same!

  6. DSimpson says:

    There’s no doubt that fluoride can be a toxic chemical, just as there can be no doubt as to its effectiveness in reducing tooth decay. This raises the real question– does Ms. Novak sincerely believe that the current Albany fluoridation process is toxic? If so, does she have any local empirical evidence to support the claim? Or is this a case of a person “doing the research” by Googling “fluoride”?

  7. Mac says:

    Not sure how she got elected. Ask her opinion on Covid vaccines and masking, Qanon…

  8. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Two opposing points of view:



    Until/if/when there are definitive studies proving otherwise, the benefits far outweigh the negatives IMO.

    I stand by what I said at the meeting.

    • Robert Nagel says:

      I would challenge you to cite one class A scientific study showing fluoride, (or hydrofluorosilicic acid) to be safe and effective. The fluoride promoters say they have thousands of them. There aren’t any. (Only the Brunelle and Carlos paper –later admitted to be a manipulative recast of the NIDR study data). And that’s all they have. Nothing. It’s not effective per the medical literature. It’s not safe. It causes bone cancer. (Osteosarcoma) and damages connective tissue. It causes dental fluorosis. It lowers children’s IQ. (Multiple studies.)
      It’s by far the most aggressive halogen in the table. In my years of selling chemicals, I only got one call from an ER or poison control center. OHSU called to reprimand our company for selling a dilute Hydrogen Fluoride compound. Fluoride damages everyone and everything it contacts. It does not prevent cavities through ingestion. It’s the worst idea in history.
      Prove me wrong.

      • centrist says:

        Not going to get into studies, just a little chemistry. Hydrogen Fluoride ( aka hydrofluoric acid) is a decidedly nasty, highly corrosive compound. Sodium Fluoride (which was the compound used early on as a water additive) is pretty benign as a wayer additive at the concentration used. Yes, it is toxic at higher concentrations. But then, so are table salt, sugar, and nitrogen..
        Further, while the ailments blamed on fluoride do occur in our population, I find no mechanism that connects.

  9. Richard Vannice says:

    Try checking Medical News Today (www.medical news today.com) which reports that, “Flouride comes from flourine, which is a common, natural and abundant element.

    Adding flouride to the water supply reduces the incidence of tooth decay.

    Flouride protects teeth from decay by demineralization and remineralization.

    Too much flouride can lead to dental fluorocis or skeletal fluorosis, which can damage bone and joints.

    There are many things, salt for instance, that are used daily that can be “Toxic” if used to excess.

    Some sinple research would find how many PPM are toxic and then compare that with what is in the City Water. I’d bet that the City Water meets the standard level.

    • Donna A Westfall says:

      “Fluoride” added to municipal water is generally hydrofluorosilicic acid or HFSA. As a former councilmember, my constituents complained about the harmfulness of HFSA. They were right. But before we took the removal of HFSA to the ballot after 44 years of having that poison in our water, I asked our supplier to provide 3 things. 1.) Toxicological report.
      2.) Listing of contaminants.
      3.) Proof that their product was safe for all water consumers, infants to seniors.

      They didn’t.

      We had high rates of obesity, low test scores, cancers, thyroid disease, diabetes, kidney disease and seizures all with links to HFSA.

      A moratorium was voted in 2012 and fluoride turned off in 2013.

  10. Michael Thomson says:

    I appreciate Councilor Kopczynski unequivocal response.

    There is no debate here. Water fluoridation is listed by the CDC as one of the top ten public health improvements of the 20th century.

  11. Al Nyman says:

    Florine and chlorine are next to each other on the periodic chart. They’re both poisons if too much is absorbed but nobody talks about chlorine when they swim.

  12. Bob Woods says:

    WOW! I agree with Al.

    Not buddies, but can still find common ground. Occasionally….

  13. Bill Kapaun says:

    At least all the members City Council now have something in common…….

  14. Julie V says:

    Flouride occurs naturally in water at varying levels. Sometimes it occurs at levels high enough to be harmful and it needs to be reduced. In a specific range fluoride prevents tooth decay and builds strong tooth enamel in children, a critical factor in good health.
    It concerns me that this issue was presented by a council member not as a practice that might be time to reinvestigate, but as as the action of an ordinance that needs to be reversed.
    The members of the city council are not trained in this field and should not make this determination without deep investigation and the consultation of experts. ( I am surprised that the council can make a decision like this without having to show documentation of proof of studies and testing done to inform the decision .)

  15. Mada says:

    Someone please point Novak to the bottled water section of the store.

    • Matilda Novak says:

      I have long chosen Not to drink our fluoridated water — but you must also consider that every shower or bath exposes the body through the skin.
      People should have a Choice as to the toxic substances they take into their bodies.
      Fluoridation of a water supply gives those who live in Albany (without benefit of a private well) no choice. While I can refuse to use a fluoridated toothpaste, the fluoride remains in the water. And it also necessitates the addition of even More Chemicals to bring the pH balance back up.

  16. Matthew Prudell says:

    Water fluoridation is the practice of adding industrial-grade fluoride chemicals to water for the purpose of preventing tooth decay. One of the little known facts about this practice is that the United States, which fluoridates over 70% of its water supplies, has more people drinking fluoridated water than the rest of the world combined. Most developed nations, including all of Japan and 97% of western Europe, do not fluoridate their water.

    In the United States, the Oral Health Division of the Centers Disease Control (CDC) hails fluoridation as one of the “top ten public health achievements of the 20th century.” However, comprehensive data from the World Health Organization reveals that there is no discernible difference in tooth decay between the minority of western nations that fluoridate water, and the majority that do not. In fact, the tooth decay rates in many non-fluoridated countries are now lower than the tooth decay rates in fluoridated ones.

    As is becoming increasingly clear, fluoridating water supplies is an outdated, unnecessary, and dangerous relic from a 1950s public health culture that viewed mass distribution of chemicals much differently than scientists do today. The few nations that still fluoridate their water should end the practice.

  17. Matthew Prudell says:

    Unlike all other water treatment processes, fluoridation does not treat the water itself, but the person consuming it. The Food & Drug Administration accepts that fluoride is a drug, not a nutrient, when used to prevent disease. By definition, therefore, fluoridating water is a form of medication. This is why most western European nations have rejected the practice — because, in their view, the public water supply is not an appropriate place to be adding drugs, particularly when fluoride is readily available for individual use in the form of toothpaste.

  18. Matthew Prudell says:

    The most obvious reason to end fluoridation is that it is now known that fluoride’s main benefit comes from topical contact with the teeth, not from ingestion. Even the CDC’s Oral Health Division now acknowledges this. There is simply no need, therefore, to swallow fluoride, whether in the water, toothpaste, or any other form. Further, despite early claims that fluoridated water would reduce cavities by 65%, modern large-scale studies show no consistent or meaningful difference in the cavity rates of fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas.

  19. Matthew Prudell says:

    As of 2020 there have been 72 fluoride-IQ studies, of which 64 found a lower IQ among children with higher fluoride exposure. Many of the earlier studies were in places with elevated natural fluoride levels. There is now very strong evidence that fluoride damages both the fetal and infant brain at the levels used in artificially fluoridated areas.

  20. Matthew Prudell says:

    Reason #1 to Oppose Water Fluoridation: Fluoridation is a violation of the individual’s right to informed consent to medication. Within a community water supply, fluoride is being added to the water of everyone, even if some people do not want it and still others do not even know about the fluoride being added to the water or about its health risks. Informed consumer consent is needed for water fluoridation, especially because of the alarming lack of safety for this chemical and its health risks.

    • Abe Cee says:

      No one is forcing you to use city water. By the same token, Chlorine is “forced” upon you as are numerous other chemicals in everything you eat and drink.

      • Matthew Prudell says:

        No one is forcing you to eat or drink, and yes the fluoride is in almost everything you eat and drink also. Most beverage and beer companies as well as caned and processed food
        use city water witch in most cases have added fluoride, hydrofluorosilicic acid or HFSA.

  21. Deborah Swenson says:

    I am so grateful to be able to drink my well water. As long as we brush properly and our children too. There is no need for fluoride. Brushing and flossing are more important than toothpaste or fluoride. People need to do a better job of taking care of their dental health and not relying on chemicals to do something they can do for themselves.


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