LUCKNOW : Though 17 states in the country have a sizable number of people with a high fluoride content in their blood, Uttar Pradesh ranks first in this regard. A Unicef report says that 11.77 million people in the state are supposed to be having fluoride content in their blood.

Fluoride, which till few years ago was found in the water in Unnao, Rae Bareilly and a few villages in Lucknow district, has spread to new areas. Now this harmful chemical is affecting 18 districts in the state. In spite of repeated appeals made by prominent social workers, the government has done nothing but to allow it to spread in Firozabad , Mathura , Agra , Rae Bareli, etc, says a survey conducted by a NGO. The survey team which collected water samples from more than 500 villages, has found that children born in those areas have been detected with low IQ, memory loss and several other kinds of debilitating problems. It may be recalled that spastic children are known to have high concentration of fluoride in their blood.

Scores of people who were examined by the team, were found to be having a very high concentration of fluoride in their blood. Some of them were also found with a very high percentages of arsenic in their blood.

Some years ago when fluoride content in the water of the Unnao-Rae Bareli belt was found to be increasing alarmingly, the Red Cross officials suggested that the health officials continuously monitor the content of fluoride in the water. In most of the villages where tests were conducted, fluoride content was found to be more than 1.5 mg per litre, though the permissible limit is 0.5 mg in drinking water. However, in serum 0.02 mg and in urine, 0.10 mg is considered tolerable by experts, says Dr Saxena of the team.

In the areas considered to be hit by fluoride, cases of gastro-intestinal diseases, nausea, bloated stomach, headache, infertility, weakness of muscles, etc, were found to be on the rise, says the team. These are other than the dental, skeletal and non-skeletal symptoms. Shifting of population, where fluoride content is alarmingly high, is one of the solutions, says a social worker who had been meeting officials to take measures to save precious lives.