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Seattle voters defeat fluoridation proposal on March 11, 1952.
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On March 11, 1952, Seattle voters defeat a proposal to add fluoride to city drinking water.
In January 1951, Dr. Emil Palmquist, Director of the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, asked the City Council to treat city drinking water with fluoride to combat tooth decay in children. The Council passed ordinances to enact and fund the proposal but opposition developed. The matter was put to the voters for approval.
Supporters included the King County Medical Association, the Parent-Teacher Associations, and the Seattle Committee for Fluoridation. Voters were assured that the addition of one part per billion of fluoride would have no harmful effect, "established by the highest scientific authority" (The Seattle Times).
Among the opponents were Christian Scientists and the Anti-Fluoridation Committee, which alleged that Fluoride would discolor teeth and make teeth brittle. The Committee proclaimed, "There is no 'safe average dose'. The narrow margin of safety may cause physical harm to many" (Times). The program would also impose an unwanted intrusion by government into personal rights.
The final vote was 45,612 for and 88,168 against fluoridation. The supporters and opponents spent approximately $1,300 on the campaign.
Voters will defeat the proposal again in 1963, but pass it in 1968.
"Water Fluoridation Plan Highlight of Tuesday Vote," The Seattle Times, March 9, 1952, p. 17; "Charter Amendment Carries," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 12, 1952, pp. 1, 2; HistoryLink Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Seattle voters approve fluoridation of city water on November 5, 1968" (by Heather Trecases), http://www.historylink.org/.
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