WATER companies are being threatened with a mass boycott of bills if controversial fluoride plans get the green light.

Campaigners say if the proposals are pushed through they may call on the 200,000 homes affected to boycott payment of bills.

Hampshire Against Fluoridation (HAF) say this is one of the protest moves they will consider if health bosses push ahead with plans to add the chemical to the drinking water of the city and some surrounding communities.

Other possible moves include launching a national campaign, taking the case to the International Court of Human Rights and even picketing sites where relevant work is being carried out.

Chairman of the group John Spottiswoode said: “We would certainly consider calling on people to stop paying their water bills as in our view it will soon be unfit to drink

“Any legal challenge would have to be done as part of a national campaign but we are already looking to contact other cities marked out for fluoridation to give them the benefit of our experiences.”

The group also heard from national fluoride expert Peter Mansfield who showed the 40-strong audience research he carried out regarding the side effects of fluoride, how much is retained in the body and produced anecdotal evidence to support his statistics.

He argued that people already consume too much fluoride on food and by brushing their teeth and estimated that a fifth of Southampton residents probably already take in more than the two milligrams a day he believes to be an acceptable level.

If the water supply is medicated he said this number would rocket to two thirds.

He told the Daily Echo: “The young children of Southampton will be the first casualties whose teeth will become disfigured by the time they become teenagers, then older people who will pick up more common complaints like having a bad back or thyroid problems and then the elderly will have other bone-related problems.”

Campaigners claim fluoride increases the risk of cancer and even lowers intelligence.

Dr Mansfield said more problems could arise as he feels Government research is “woefully inadequate”.

Arguing for fluoridation Southampton Primary Care Trust claim it will help battle tooth decay and Health Secretary Alan Johnson last week told the Daily Echo he backed the trust. The decision to be made by the South Central Strategic Health Authority on February 26 will affect 200,000 homes in Southampton, Totton, Eastleigh, Netley and Rownhams.