GUWAHATI – Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network, which describes itself as a national movement of people who are working on fluorosis, has started a campaign under the name and style of ‘Unite for Water Unite for Assam,’ to make the people aware of the menace of fluoride contamination of drinking water and mount pressure on the State Government to supply safe drinking water to the people.
The campaign started on August 15 last and it will continue till January 26 next year.
According to Vikas Ratanjee of the Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network, excessive fluoride content in drinking water and food items cause fluorosis. It is a fact that the disease is caused mostly by fluoride contamination of drinking water. The disease is found mainly in rural areas because of increased groundwater usage and can cause serious disabilities if the right kind of precautions are not taken on time.
Fluorosis, especially skeletal fluorosis, is a dangerous disease that is caused by high quantities of fluoride in drinking water. It starts by causing extreme pain and stiffness in the neck, the back and major joints. It can start causing severe restrictions in body movement.
The stiffness steadily increases and particular bones become deformed, including back, legs and hands. The spine of a person affected becomes one column of bone. Later, involvement of the ribs gradually impairs breathing.
Fluoride in women can also cause red blood cells to break down and anaemic conditions to set in, seriously affecting them and the health of the baby in the womb, if they are pregnant, causing immense risk to both the mother and the child, said Vikash Ratanjee.
Speaking on the campaign, he said that it also intends to find ways for involving and getting together people from all strata so that they can make a difference to create a mass movement around the issue and bring the issue into public space.
On September 3 and 4, Vikas Ratanjee said he and the people from the INREM Foundation Network like former chief engineer of the Assam Public Health Engineering Department, AB Paul and the people from Ecoconcept gave a series of talks in the educational institutions of Guwahati to generate awareness on the danger of fluoride contamination of drinking water and Fluorosis.
Fluorosis was first discovered in Assam on May 26, 1999 with the detection of a fluorosis patient at Bagapani area of Karbi Anglong district by AB Paul, who was then working as the additional chief engineer of the Diphu division of PHED.
It has been found that people of eight districts of the State are affected by fluoride contamination of drinking water. Of them, Karbi Anglong and Nagaon are the worst hit.
Kamrup metro, Kamrup, Karimganj, North Lakhimpur are moderately affected and Dhubri and Golaghat districts have lately been found to be affected too.