People in rural areas of Maharashtra inadvertently consume water laced with excess fluoride

A considerable amount of fluoride enters the human body through drinking water and excess fluoride can be toxic for health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set the minimum and maximum limits of fluoride content for drinking water purposes at 0.5 and 1.5 mg/l, respectively

Image source: Google
Image source: Google
  • People living in 10 districts of Maharashtra consume water which has excess fluoride content.
  • These rural habitations are yet to be provided with safe drinking water, according to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Satiation.
  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), various studies establish that fluoride primarily impacts the skeletal tissues, bones and teeth.

A startling fact has come to light, through the National Health Profile (NHP) report which was released by the central government last week.

The report states:

‘Fluoride affected rural habitations with excess fluoride which are yet to be provided safe drinking water according to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation as on March 01, 2018 in Maharashtra are:

Chandrapur – 24, Nanded – 7, Buldhana – 3, Beed – 4, Nagpur – 12, Gadchiroli – 5, Parbhani – 4, Jalgaon – 1, Wardha – 4, Nashik – 1

With an aim to address the problem of fluorosis, mainly due to the intake of high fluoride through drinking water, the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis (NPPCF) was initiated in 2008-09.

The main objective of the program was comprehensive management of fluorosis in the selected areas and capacity building for prevention, diagnosis and management of fluorosis cases.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Shrikant Dahibhate, a spine surgeon from Hedgewar Hospital, Aurangabad, said, “The effects of drinking water with fluoride are not visible instantly. But, if we are exposed to the water for a longer duration, then it affects human health. After consuming water which has fluoride for 4-5 years, teeth of children will start getting affected. Also, fluoride replaces calcium in the bones. So, over the period the joint movement would be restricted. Consuming water which has excess fluoride can cause bone damage.”

He added, “Due to the rapid industrialisation in Maharashtra, we are witnessing a rise in fluoride levels in the drinking water. The government needs to control this, as the effects will be visible after 10 years.”

As per the World Health Organization (WHO),

  • Fluoride can also have an adverse effect on tooth enamel and may give rise to mild dental fluorosis.
  • Skeletal fluorosis (with adverse changes in bone structure) may be observed when drinking-water contains 3–6 mg of fluoride per litre.
  • Studies in China and India report an increased prevalence of skeletal fluorosis above the level of 1.4 mg fluoride/litre in drinking water.

Excessive fluoride intake usually occurs through the consumption of groundwater naturally rich in fluoride, particularly in warm climates where water consumption is greater, or where high-fluoride water is used in food preparation or irrigation of crops.

Such exposure may lead to dental fluorosis or crippling skeletal fluorosis, which is associated with osteosclerosis, calcification of tendons and ligaments, and bone deformities.

While Dr Rewat Kaninde, a general physician from Mumbai, informed, “If children are exposed to drinking water with fluoride for a longer duration. Then the colour of the teeth changes. It can also cause bone fluorosis and pain in the bones. Fluoride can affect the thyroid gland. And, if a woman consumes water with fluoride during pregnancy, it is likely to affect the growth of the baby.”