HYDERABAD: City researchers have found a new method of treating fluoride at home. Take tamarind seeds, powder them and mix a pinch of it in a glass of fluoride-contaminated water. Lo! You will get fresh water free of fluoride. This handy procedure is suitable in places where the fluoride content is high in groundwater, particularly those affected by fluorosis. The water quality become palatable and potable. The mechanism works even in cities like Hyderabad as the groundwater is increasingly laced with chemicals and salts due to high level of contamination.

A team of researchers from Annamacharya Institute of Technology and Sciences, and Government City College, Hyderabad, has successfully removed fluoride from water by mixing powder of tamarind seeds. The water quality not only improves but also brings down the fluoride content to the levels considered acceptable by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for human consumption.

The team from Annamacharya Institute of Technology and Sciences is led by Dr Kolli Sunder Kumar, assistant professor in the department of chemistry. Research scholar Srisailam Gogula was from the Government City College. The researchers said tamarind is a natural and eco-friendly method of cleaning water of fluoride content.

They collected borewell water, hand pump water and surface water for fluoride estimation in 13 mandals of Nalgonda district in two seasons. The areas were Chityal, Narkatpally, Nalgonda, Kangal, Munugode, Chandur, Marriguda, Gurrampod, Mallepally, Chintapalli, Devarakonda, Chandampeta and Dindi. Around 400 samples from these villages were tested in laboratory for fluoride content by analytical methods with using ion meter.

“We observed that the fluoride concentration is more than 1.5 mg/litre in various villages. This is not acceptable as per WHO norms for drinking water. The groundwater from Yellareddygudem of Narketpally mandal has the highest fluoride concentration. We collected this water and treated it with power of tamarind seeds. The seeds contain polysaccharides. We obtained the best result from tamarind seeds,” Dr Sunder Kumar told TOI.

The study was aimed at devising a simple, cheap and viable defluoridation method that could be adopted easily by people in villages. Dr Sunder Kumar said it is the cheapest method for fluoride treatment.