States asked to provide alternative source of drinking water in affected areas

Concerned at increasing cases of fluorosis, the Union government has asked the States to provide alternative source of drinking water to the people in areas with high concentration of fluorosis in groundwater.

Fluorosis in its severe form (skeletal fluorosis) is a crippling disorder that occurs due to excess intake of fluoride, mainly through drinking water. The effects, being permanent and irreversible in nature, are detrimental to the health of the individual and the community, which in turn has an impact on the growth, development, economy and human resource.

The permissible fluoride limit, as per BIS is 1 ppm in drinking water. At least 19 States have been identified with fluoride in water level above the safe limit.

“Since there is no treatment for cases of skeletal fluorosis, only efforts can be made towards reducing the disability which has occurred. The best and only way to prevent fluorosis is providing safe drinking water to people,” Jagdish Prasad, Director-General of Health Services, said.

In a letter to the States, Dr. Prasad says the departments concerned must be directed to urgently provide alternative sources of water for drinking and cooking purposes in areas that have high fluoride content to free people from crippling disorder.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has initiated a National Programme for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis (NPPCF) in 100 districts of 17 affected-States during the XIth Five Year Plan. Through this programme, support is being provided at the district level for consultants, setting up of laboratory along with a technician, field investigators for six months to carry out surveys, analysis of water and urine samples and awareness programmes for management of identified cases. At least 230 districts in 19 States are affected by fluorosis. These States are Andhra Pardesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Orissa, Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.