October 9, 2015
As U.S. citizens, we expect our elected officials to provide public safety and protection in our communities. Basic expectations include law enforcement, responsive fire departments and the prevention of disease through public health measures of good sanitation, smoke-free public spaces and community water fluoridation. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. Today, 75% of all U.S. residents drink fluoridated water. Scientific studies show that, as a result of the increase in the number of communities with water systems that add fluoride, between 1966 and 1994 the average number of decayed, filled or missing teeth among 12-year-olds dropped by 68 percent.
Past generations of Newport residents are among these beneficiaries because the citizens of Newport in 1960 voted in favor of fluoridation. Even in 1960, there were decades of scientific research showing the benefits and safety of adding a tiny and regulated amount of fluoride to the water supply. This vote gave a clear directive to the City Council that the benefits of fluoride in the City water supply was the will of the voters and that the cost of this benefit was worthy of their tax dollars. This vote was upheld in 1962.
In 1960, the Newport City Council honored the will of the voters by passing the resolution to add the tiny and regulated amount of fluoride shown to prevent tooth decay to the city’s water supply. The City of Newport thus joined many other communities at that time in establishing a known and safe public health protection known as community water fluoridation.
However, one day in September 2005, the City of Newport shut off the supply of fluoride to city’s water supply. This action was taken as a temporary measure due to mechanical problems at the water treatment plant with the fluoridation equipment. These mechanical problems were never addressed at that plant, as a new water treatment plant was being considered. In 2008, Newport voters approved a $15.9 million bond measure to build the new water treatment plant. While the new water treatment plant was under construction, the new fluoridation equipment was excluded as a cost savings measure, due to problems with project’s management and cost overruns. As a result, the will of the voters and the
Health and Human Services Department and City Council of 1960 were cast aside in an unprecedented and disrespectful manner by the actions of the City Manager at that time.
Additionally, Newport’s City Manager position has changed hands 4 times since 2005. Without the steady leadership and oversight of an engaged City Manager until 2013, there was no effort to reinstate fluoridation—until now.
Last year, a group of residents who serve as volunteers for the Lincoln County Public Health Advisory Council decided to take steps to improve the health of the community. They met with City Manager Spencer Nebel in an effort to reinstate fluoridation of the city’s water supply, as expressed by the will of the voters and the City Council in 1960. It is important to note that Mr. Nebel has expertise in successfully overseeing a fluoridated community water system in his previous role as City Manager of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
I have welcomed the recent debate opened by the Newport City Council regarding the safety of reinstating the addition of the tiny and regulated amount (0.7 parts per million) of fluoride to Newport’s water supply. Scientific research of the last 5 decades still supports, as it did in 1960, that fluoridated drinking water is a proven, safe and very effective way to prevent tooth decay and support healthy teeth. What experts also know now is having healthy teeth and gums is also associated with lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases. It is no wonder that the World Health Organization, American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Oregon Medical Association and other national and international health groups strongly support fluoridation. Many of our local dentists, doctors and other health care providers strongly support the City of Newport in reinstating fluoridation of Newport’s water supply.
It is time for the current Newport City Council to again honor the will of the voters of 1960, 1962, and 2008 in providing this proven, safe and very effective public health protection. It is time for the Newport City Council to direct City Manager Spencer Nebel to again exercise his demonstrated strong leadership and management skills in successful oversight of a fluoridated community water system. It is time to give Newport’s future generations the same life-long dental health that was bestowed in 1960 to Newport’s past generations. It is time to reinstate fluoridation of Newport’s water supply.
Cheryl S. Connell, RN
Lincoln County Health and Human Service
A lot of research has been done since 1962 vote on adding fluoride to Newport water. No fluoride supplement has every been approved by the FDA for the treatment of tooth decay. Fluoride in a topical treatment is the only effective way to prevent tooth decay. Ingesting fluoride has been linked to damaging bones, teeth, brain function disrupt thyroid function, lower IQ and/or cause cancer according to evidence revealed in a 2006 National Research Council (NRC) fluoride report produced by a panel of experts who reviewed hundreds of published fluoride studies. Fluoride is a drug regulated by the FDA. It is not a food supplement.
People need to research the effects of this poison before allowing Newport to add it to our water. People can get fluoride from other sources: toothpaste, mouthwash and fluoride rinse. Almost every product from processed food to bottled juices contain fluoride, since the plants that process the food usually gets water from a municipal water system that adds fluoride to the water. No one knows how much we consume daily, so adding more fluoride to our water could cause an overdose.
(NewsLincolnCounty.com neither endorses nor opposes the views expressed in the foregoing editorials.)