POLLSTERS have begun phoning 2,000 Hampshire residents as part of an independent survey to gather public opinions on fluoridation.
The poll is being carried out as the consultation on controversial plans to add the chemical to the water in parts of Southampton and the surrounding area including Nursling and Rownhams enters its final stages.
More than 6,000 people have now officially given their views on the scheme, which would affect 160,000 city residents and another 36,000 living outside its boundaries.
Those opinions, and the results of the phone survey, will be used to help the board of South Central Strategic Health Authority in making its decision on whether or not to approve fluoridation.
Southampton City Primary Care Trust, argues fluoridation is the best way of improving poor dental health in the city’s children, particularly in deprived areas.
But opponents say it is an unethical form of mass-medication, and argue it could bring side effects including dental fluorosis, cancers, thyroid problems and lowered IQ.
Kevin McNamara, from the SHA consultation team, said the phone poll is designed to ensure views are gathered in as many ways as possible.
The PCT and Hampshire Against Fluoridation have been asked for input on the questions being asked to ensure they are fair.
“The good thing about an independent phone survey is that it will reach a complete cross-section of the local community,” said Mr McNamara.
“Most national polling takes place using sample sizes of 1,000 people. However, we were keen to use a larger sample size to capture more views.”
The public consultation ends on December 19. The SHA will make a final decision on fluoridation in February.