Advocates for fluoridating Portland's water gathered Tuesday morning to say their opponents have been spreading myths about the safety of the proposal.

Voters will be asked in May to approve a $5 million project to add fluoride to city water.

Nicole Maher is President of the Northwest Health Foundation. She says fluoride is critical to improving public health in the region.

"I'm a member of the Tlingit tribe, and we're a community that when someone tells you, 'The government approves this,' we're very suspicious."

But Maher says she feels comfortable with the fluoridation plan. She added that many communities of color are among the leaders promoting the initiative.

She counts among them 80 grassroots health and welfare organizations.

Opponents of fluoridation say data show that children's dental health in the region isn't poor enough to justify mass fluoridation.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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