Hundreds of people have backed petitions against the fluoridation of water supplies in a city badly hit by tooth decay.

Campaigners say they oppose “forced medication” in Hull and claim studies implicate fluoride in serious illnesses including an increase in tumours and cancers.

Online petitions to Hull Council and East Riding Council, which will also be consulted, have gained nearly 300 signatures. Organiser Patrick Holdsworth, said: “Why should I be forced to drink a dangerous chemical? Fluoridation is forced medication with no concern for the dose administered or the level of sensitivity to fluoride toxicity of individuals drinking the water.” Research suggests 43.4 per cent of five-year-olds in Hull have tooth decay.

The British Dental Association said Birmingham, which introduced fluoridation half a century ago, saw child tooth decay fall by almost half in the first six years.

Scientific advisor Professor Damien Walmsley said despite “scaremongering” there was no evidence fluoride harmed health, citing a review last year by Public Health England which found no difference between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas in rates of hip fracture, osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer) and cancers overall.