Staff Reporter

Experts blame drinking water supply system for rising prevalence

ALAPPUZHA: Speakers at a continuing medical education (CME) programme on fluorosis here have warned that the disorder has become endemic to the districts of Alappuzha and Palakkad.

The programme was organised by the Fluorosis Research Centre (FRC) at T.D. Medical College here.

Experts said the prevalence of the disorder had reached 40 per cent in Alappuzha and 45 per cent in Palakkad.

On the disorder in Alappuzha, they said the drinking water supply system had a lot to do with its rising prevalence. While surface water was distributed in most places, it was the fluoride-strong groundwater that was distributed in Alappuzha.

While the internationally accepted level of fluoride in groundwater was 1 particle per molecule (ppm), the level in several places in Alappuzha was 2.5 ppm, considered a toxic dose.

Though dental fluorosis was the most commonly reported fluoride-generated disorder here, related ailments such as skeletal fluorosis, knock-knee, bow leg, spinal issues leading to neurological problems, abdominal discomfort, low birth weight and infertility in males owing to abnormality in sperms were also reported.

With fluorosis not being included in medical curricula here, diagnosis and treatment too were suffering. The CME programme would be the first of its kind of orientation programme for doctors in the State, FRC project officer P. Gopalakrishnan told The Hindu.

In Alappuzha, it was not just groundwater that played villain. High consumption of black tea, with tea leaves containing fluoride, was another reason, Dr. Gopalakrishnan said.

Use of milk, which contains calcium that converts fluoride into calcium fluoride, could act as a preventive. Use of toothpaste containing fluoride was another reason.

Threat from tea

Apart from government policies on supply of safe drinking water and controlled use of fluoride-containing toothpaste, awareness had to be generated on ill-effects of over-consumption of black tea. A change in food habits, with inclusion of Vitamins C, D and E and calcium, intake of green and leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, ginger and general fruits, should be encouraged, he said.

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