AURANGABAD: The water-starved Beed district is now staring at a bigger crisis. The state health department tested 3,862 water samples from the district, and found 2,402 unsuitable for drinking due to high content of fluoride, nitrate and iron. The same survey found 376 people suffering from dental and skeletal fluorosis and also kidney-related diseases in 18 villages, of the 50 villages that have been put on high-fluorisis alert.
Health officials said the high chemical and heavy metal contamination is largely due to the depleting groundwater level in Marathwada region and increasing use of complex fertilizers. They said that if they dig deeper they would even find arsenic in the groundwater.
Beed district health officer, G S Doiphode, said, “A team of six officers, including a technician, was deployed by the Maharashtra state joint director of health to test water samples in Beed district. The survey was conducted between February and May 2013.” He said the water samples tested had fluoride concentration above 1.5 mg per litre, and many were found to have presence of nitrate, iron and alkaline content higher than the permissible limit.
Worried with the high chemical content found in the samples, officials started conducting camps in villages to check cases of fluorosis under the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis ( NPPCF). “Of the 497 villages in the district, 50 villages were found to be on radar and the health department has screened patients in 18 villages till date,” Doiphode said.
Epidemic officer, Beed ZP health department, P K Pingle said, “Altogether 345 patients were found to be suffering from dental fluorosis, while 18 were diagnosed suffering from skeletal fluorosis and 13 from non- skeletal fluorosis.”
He said, “Of the 2,402 samples which were found unsuitable for drinking purpose, 497 samples had a fluoride concentration of over 1.5 parts per million parts (ppm) per litre. Water samples in some villages were found to have presence of fluoride between 1.5-3ppm, some were found to have 3-5ppm and also above 5ppm.” The permissible fluoride limit, as per the Bureau of Indian Standards is 1 ppm in drinking water.