A chemist called it “criminally intolerant chemical warfare to enslave the American people.” A self-described inventor and “secret investigator” said the government was trying to “kill you slowly.” Another man put it bluntly: “Communism is one of the factors behind it.”

In the summer of 1966, a year after the Watts riots, Los Angeles City Council members took up what The Times called “one of the most controversial proposals ever.” The hearings drew hundreds of agitated citizens.

The supercharged issue? Adding fluoride to tap water to prevent tooth decay. The proposal was defeated, as were subsequent attempts to fluoridate Los Angeles’ drinking water in 1968 and 1975. The issue, in Southern California at least, seemed to be dead.

Then last month, the Metropolitan Water District started fluoridating the water it serves 18 million customers across Southern California, giving life to another round of accusations and conspiracy theories. This time, though, a battle once waged by far-right red baiters is being led by independents and activists on the left.

“We are not lab rats and reject any attempt to be treated as such,” actor and liberal political activist Martin Sheen and his wife wrote in a letter to The Malibu Times last month after reading about MWD’s fluoridation effort in their latest water bill.

The move, four years in the planning, is the largest fluoridation project in U.S. history and thus a watershed in the peculiar story of one of the nation’s longest-running controversies.

For more than 60 years, a debate has simmered over whether artificially fluoridated water is one of public health’s greatest achievements or an ill-advised attempt by the government to medicate the population by force with a dangerous chemical.

Full Story: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-fluoride22dec22,