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Wanted: water without fluoride

S. Prasad

Dental mottling is found to be higher in Dharmapuri: study


  • Fluoride content in water is highest in Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri
  • There should be an effective groundwater replenishing project



    THE IMPACT: A child with dental mottling at Agasipalli in Krishnagiri. - Photo: N. Bashkaran

    Dharmapuri: People in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts continue to drink water contaminated with fluoride. With the Hogenakkal Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme in preliminary stages, an alternative water supply scheme should be chalked out immediately to address this endemic problem.

    On instructions from the Union Health Ministry the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, conducted a study to assess the prevalence of fluoride in the northwestern districts of Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Vellore, Salem and Erode.

    The study revealed that dental mottling was found to be higher in Dharmapuri (36 per cent), Krishnagiri (24 per cent) and Salem (33 per cent). However, skeletal fluorosis was found to be generally low in these districts.

    As per World Health Organisation (WHO) norms, the proportion of fluoride accepted in water sources is below 1.5 parts per million (ppm) per litre.

    But the proportion was found to be maximum in Dharmapuri (35) and Krishnagiri (42) districts. Though River Cauvery enters the State at Biligundulu in Krishnagiri district it does not contribute to irrigation or drinking water purposes. As a result, the population is entirely dependent on ground water sources. Indiscriminate exploitation of the surface water has led to a steep decline in groundwater level. This has led to an increase in fluoride level in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts.

    Dharmapuri finds itself in a bad position owing to depletion of ground water sources. The Government should implement an effective ground water replenishing project in Dharmapuri. ``A technical committee should be appointed to evolve a concrete groundwater policy," Dharmapuri MP, Dr. R. Senthil, told The Hindu. According to the state deputy secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI), Deva Perinban, a total of 3,555 habitations spread in 10 districts of Tamil Nadu have been affected with fluoride. Of these one-third of the habitations are in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts.

    The proportion of fluoride in water sources was highest in Uthangkarai block in Krishnagiri at 9 ppm and 6.8 ppm in Pappireddipatti block in Dharmapuri district.

    As per the 2001 census, out of a total population of 12,80,552 in Dharmapuri district about 3,80,163 persons (29.5 per cent) were at high risk of dental fluorosis. Similarly, out of 2,75,310 children (five to 14 years) about 1,15,819 (45 per cent) are exposed to fluorosis. In Krishnagiri 25 per cent of children have fluorosis. Because of malnutrition negative effects of fluorosis are high in these districts and should be addressed immediately.

    Supply of protected drinking water to all villages was incorporated in the 10th Five Year Plan which is nearing completion. But nothing concrete has emerged till date.

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