TUMKUR: “I have been to all the big hospitals in Bangalore. But even the doctors have pleaded helplessness. What do I do? I have now resigned to my fate”, says Channakrishna, who has been literally paralysed in the limbs due to fluorosis affliction.
The situation is no different in the other households of Pavagada taluk in the district. In Thimmapura village, Naganna’s four children have been immobilised by the affliction. In this village, which has about 50 households, over 30 individuals have been affected by fluorosis. As doctors say, all people in the entire taluk may become immobilised if the condition persists.
The prevalence of fluorosis has caused symptoms like joint pains, irregular growth of limbs and spinal cord, formation of lumps on the body resulting in inability to even stand up in some cases. Sixty-year-old Narasappa, who had never had any health problem since childhood, today has developed bow legs and cannot even stand up. Likewise, Manjunath (8), has lost movement in the limbs since the last one year.
The prevailing condition is such that a healthy child will develop abnormal growth in the limbs in a year’s time and the condition worsens over the years. Treatment of fluorosis, which affects the young and the old alike, has posed a daunting task of the medical fraternity.
According to a recent study undertaken in 24 villages of the taluk, about 90 per cent of the population had been affected by fluorosis. Almost all children have been affected by fluorosis of the teeth while in others, it has manifested as joint pains and deformity of the spinal cord and bones of the limbs.
According to Taluk Health Officer Dr Manjunath, fluorosis can affect the teeth, ribs or other parts or manifest everywhere. Fluorosis can only be prevented and there is no cure once a person has been affected by it, he noted.
CAUSES: Fluorosis is primarily caused by excessive presence of fluoride in water or food. Fluoride content exceeding 1.2 mg per litre (1.2 ppm) can cause fluorosis.
A test conducted in all the villages of Pavagada taluk revealed that in 181 villages the fluoride content in the water ranged between 1.6 mg to 4.8 mg per litre.
The test also revealed that in many villages, the water was hard and contained excessive nitrate content and dissolved particles.
Medical practitioners say that even the foetus in pregnant women and new-borns who consume breast milk are prone to fluorosis affliction due to consumption of the water. It can also lead to other problems like formation of kidney stones, stomach pain, diarrhoea, gastritis, loss of appetite and constipation.
SOLUTION: The only solution against fluorosis is to consume fluoride-less water. The State government has also set up a de-fluoride unit at B K Halli on an experimental basis at a cost of Rs 7 lakh. In the unit, water is treated in the reverse osmosis process using the membrane technology.