Fluoride Action Network

20 lakh [2 million] people face threat from fluoride, arsenic

Source: The Assam Tribune | October 4th, 2014 | By Ajit Patowary
Location: India

GUWAHATI – The State is facing a grave water quality problem, which is threatening the future of a large section of its upcoming generations.

It has been found that 19 districts of the State have areas affected by arsenic and nine districts have high fluoride in many pockets, including greater Guwahati. On top of this, high level of toxic elements like lead in groundwater of Darrang and Dhemaji districts is found, cadmium is found in the groundwater of Dhemaji district, while high level of non-biodegradable toxic pesticides like DDT and hexachlorocylohexane (HCH) are found in the groundwater of Dibrugarh and Nagaon districts.

Besides, proximity to the uranium deposits in Meghalaya, hydrocarbon exploration activities since the 19th century, universal presence of high quantity of iron in groundwater have been complicating the situation, said water quality experts here.

Cadmium affects the central nerve system, makes bones brittle, causes mental disorders and may lead to cancerous diseases by causing disorders in DNA. Intake of high amount of HCH is toxic for the human body, experts maintain.

In the late 1990s, the first batch of fluorosis patients was discovered in the State and this led to the discovery of high amount of fluoride in the groundwater of Karbi Anglong district. This was followed by the discovery of arsenic in 2003 in two districts of the State – Dhubri and Karimganj.

Fluoride and arsenic contamination of groundwater, which was thought to be free from bacteriological contamination, posed a serious health hazard, as, groundwater was mostly supplied by the Government to the people of the State’s rural areas since the early 1960s as safe drinking water.

It is feared that at least two million people of the State are at risk only because of fluoride and arsenic contamination of groundwater, said the experts.

In some places, one in every three persons is affected by non-curable fluorosis. And this is creating a deep social desolation begetting the burden of the State’s society. Children get affected more from these problems as arsenic, fluoride, lead are neurotoxins for them and now even some babies are born with fluorosis, the experts said.