PESHAWAR: Residents of Sher Berje village in Mullagori, tehsil Jamrud of Khyber Agency are suffering from waterborne diseases caused by high quantities of fluoride in drinking water.
“After the water was tested by a laboratory a doctor advised us that the water is not safe for human consumption,” said resident Azizullah Khan. Most of the villagers are poor and cannot afford mineral water, which is why we are compelled to drink it, he added.
The village has a population of more than 20,000 people and many suffer from teeth, stomach and bone-related diseases. While some families have migrated to other areas, the poor ones are left behind to face the epidemic.
We have been facing a water shortage for 32 years and are unable to digest food in the morning, while in the afternoon we walk before eating lunch, said a village resident Azizullah Khan.
Despite promises by political representatives to construct water filtration plants and tanks, none has been set up so far.
A Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research official Jahangir Shah said that the water contains insufficient quantities of calcium and very high levels of fluoride. This can negatively affect a person’s health and is especially dangerous for children.
“I am 19-years-old and I have no teeth,” said another village resident Muhammad Arif, adding that all his teeth are artificial. Everyone in the village has severe teeth problems and a child’s teeth turn yellow before they start to fall at the age 10, he said. “People cannot eat meat or food that is hard to chew and I have not eaten meat and rice in the last five years.”
Dr Saima Naz of the Khyber Dentistry College said that once teeth fall, re-teething becomes impossible.
In addition to teeth problems, majority of women in the area suffer from bone diseases, said a village resident Samiullah Khan. “Women cannot walk by the age of 45 because of body pain,” he added.