- Central team found alarming levels of fluoride in the ground water
- Already, 15,385 are suffering from dental mottling, 10,343 from neck, spinal and neurological problems, 95 are suffering from skeletal disorders and 15 are bedridden for life
The fluoride levels in water of Prakasam district are almost equal to levels in Nalgonda district in Telangana, according to a team from Central government in a recent survey. The team comprising of health, geological and ground water department officials submitted their report to the State and Central governments along with suggestions to eradicate the ill-effects of fluoride on citizens.
It is estimated that the 788 habitations of the 2,342 in Prakasam district are affected by the fluoride-content in water. Most of the villages are in Kanigiri, Giddalur, Chimakurti, Kondapi, Darsi and Kandukur mandals of the district. The low calcium content of the rocks and soils and high bicarbonate levels in earth materials like granite in the region is the main cause of the fluoride problem.
Ground water is considered safe for drinking and other needs, if the fluoride level does not exceed 1.0 ppm (parts per million). The ground water in the fluoride affected areas contains more than 5 ppm. In Nalgonda district, the ground water levels in surrounding places of Alair near Sivanna Gudem, Peda Vagu, Chandar Vagu, Chinakaparthi, Kodabakshupalle streams contains 7 ppm of fluoride, where the average of the district is 14 ppm.
In Prakasam district, 787 habitations in 18 mandals have fluoride levels from 5 to 10 ppm, 193 habitations have 3 to 5 ppm and 564 habitations 1.2 to 3 ppm of fluoride in water. It is also calculated that the people in the area are consuming nearly 60 milligrams of fluoride through rice, vegetables and pulses grown in the area.
Since April 2012, the authorities conducted medical checkup for 53,151 people belonging to 13,205 families in 480 villages of the district under Mitigation of Fluorosis programme. Out of them, 15,385 are suffering from dental mottling, 10,343 are suffering from neck, spinal and neurological problems, 95 are suffering from skeletal disorders and 15 are bedridden for the life.
The committee strongly suggested that the district administration must provide surface water for drinking and a special programme by the government to provide vitamin B, C and E supplements along with minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorous. The health department in Prakasam district started the supply of vitamins to the people in the affected area through health workers.
The District Health and Medical Officer, Dr J Yasmin said, “To eradicate fluoride problem in the district, we should provide purified drinking water through the local administration. We are supplying vitamin supplements through Asha workers and ANMs in the villages and kept stock in the PHCs. Regular health checkups are also being conducted in the affected areas to prevent further affect of fluoride.
We are hoping that the completion of Veligonda project may provide safe drinking water to the region.”The present generation is less affected by fluoride compared to their parents and grandparents, but the situation is still alarming. When 18,582 students in 553 schools in this region were checked, more than 2,000 were found suffering with dental mottling. Their teeth had turned yellow, he said.