ARUSHA Region’s Meru, Longido and Arusha Rural districts have been identified as having the highest concentration of fluoride in their water bodies in the country.
The districts’ natural water reserves have the contamination ranging between five and 30 milligrams per litre.
The World Health Organisation recommends 1.5 milligram of fluoride per litre of water while in Tanzania the permitted content may reach four milligrams per litre. But, for Meru and Longido, the concentration has reached 20 milligrams, five times the national average, in the course of this week alone.
“And fluoride concentration for the three districts may rise to toxic 30 milligrams per litre or more during rainy seasons between March and June,” said Head of Arumerubased Head of Ngurdoto Defluorination Research Station Godfrey Mkongo.
The effects of fluoride are already clearly seen among residents of Longido and Meru districts, including premature aging, hard-bended backbone, bow-legged, bone fragility, crouching anatomies, large heads and other permanent body disfigurations.
According to Mr Mkongo, there are also invisible effects, including hydrophilic syndromes, nerves paralysis, muscles pains and overall body tiredness.
In addressing the problem, Arusha Urban Water Supply Authority (AUWSA) recently teamed up with the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) to conduct thorough researches on the fluoride content in local water sources here and the best way to rectify the situation.
AUWSA Managing Director, Engineer Ruth Koya, said the local area has potential water resources but much of them have high fluoride content, making it difficult for the water authority to explore and drill new water wells to supply in the city.
Ingestion of too much fluoride, according to experts, causes dental fluorosis, a condition characterised by tooth failure to crystallise properly in permanent teeth, causing chalky, opaque blotching of teeth to severe, rust-coloured stains, surface pitting and tooth brittleness as well as malleable bones.
AUWSA has already floated tenders for the purchase of fluoride removers and water treatment plants and according to its director, one of the machines capable of purifying 50 cubic litres per day, costs a whopping 600m/-.