: Of the 77 people in Keezhumadu who had shown varied levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in their blood, 38 would require treatment, 33 for high TSH and the rest for low.

The people in Pulakkad colony in the grama panchayat were subjected to a blood test because the well water in the area was found to be contaminated with high levels of ammonium perchlorate, commonly known as rocket fuel.

The blood test of 436 people from 178 families conducted through a medical camp held two months ago had revealed that TSH activity was abnormal in 77, who were subjected to yet another test recently to determine the kind of treatment required.

Liza Sebastian, panchayat president, told The Hindu that people would not have to go anywhere for treatment as the Health department would be bringing in a specialist here. The primary health centre would provide all treatment facilities, she added.

The second blood test showed that among the 40 people who may not require any treatment, the TSH levels that were high two months ago had come down while in some it had almost reached normal level. The medical officer at the PHC, Manju P. S., said expert opinion would be sought on the findings, but the preliminary analysis could be that since the people had stopped using the contaminated well water for two months, the TSH levels in the blood could be regaining normal range.

The second camp, in which 73 new people were also tested for thyroid dysfunction, showed that eight were affected. While the groundwater contamination has been found in various levels in other nearby areas too, the high concentration of rocket fuel was found in Pulakkad colony.

The permissible levels of the chemical are less than 15 parts per million (ppm) per litre of water. The levels were as high as 35,000 to 45,000 ppm in the ground water resources in the colony.

High levels of the ammonium perchlorate levels in the drinking water interferes with the metabolic activity in the body as the chemical replaces the iodine content in the blood, making the people deficient of the mineral. As iodine is an important mineral in the functioning of the thyroid gland, its functioning is affected. People with low levels of iodine assimilation show hypothyroidism that affects many body functions. In children, it retards growth.

High TSH activity indicates hypothyroidism. There were also a few people who had shown low TSH activity. Their blood samples were also taken to know the cause. Besides, the panchayat had identified 26 more families living near a pond that had high levels of ammonium perchlorate, and they were included in the second medical camp held recently. The second camp tested the 77 people identified with the disorder from the earlier camp and 73 people from the 26 families.

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