Fluoride presence in the ground water of some areas of the district is alarmingly high and consumption could cause serious health hazards, observed an expert team led by a Delhi-based private organisation that visited Patripal in Remuna block and Jayarampur in Bhograi block of Balasore.

The team members included Rajnarayan Indu and Sunderrajan Krishnan, of a Gujarat-based organisation (Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network) which works for safe and sustainable drinking water and a dentist, Sundar M Senthilnathan of Arghyam Bangalore.

In fact, the experts were invited by Balasore MP RK Jena, after raising the issue of fluoride menace in the floor of Parliament.

The team, during its visit to these GPs in Remuna and Bhograi, besides collecting drinking water samples, also medically examined school children.

The members also met some patients who have become victims of deformity and fluorosis, after consuming water with high level content of fluoride for a long time.

Rajnarayan Indu, a member of the team, said, “What we could understand is that the water in Patripal and Jayrampur GP contains over 5 mg of fluoride per litre water against 1 mg per litre permissible limit. The water samples collected by us is under testing”.

“The condition of some of the patients in Patripal is very severe. What is more alarming is that they are taking painkillers and antibiotics. This would affect kidney, heart and other vital organs of the body,” he said.

“Nutrition supplement and consumption of spinach-like drumstick leaf and green papeeta could bring wonderful results instead of taking antibiotics and painkillers,” said Sunderrajan Krishnan adding, “In Jhabua district of MP, similar fluorosis crisis was mitigated to a large extent within 2 years of intervention, cutting off the deep tubewell water and provision of nutrition supplement.”

The team, however, refused to comment on the exact cause of presence of fluoride in such high quantities in these patches.

“It is too early to conclude and requires a detailed study of how the water contained such high fluoride. The calcium and iron supplements can mitigate the severity,” the team members said.

The team, after visiting Jayrampur GP conducted medical examinations, mainly dental, for two schoolchildren they found many of them were affected with dental fluorosis.

They could be affected with skeleton or non-skeleton flurosis if they continue to consume the same water untreated, they observed. In Patripal, the team found about 45 patients and some of them were severally crippled, who had lost hope of recovery.

The rural water supply and sanitation (RWSS) department about 7 years ago had installed a plant in Patripal. It is supplying pipe water after treating the water of Sono river as it found high level oxide presence in the tubewell water.

The department has marked some tubewells as unfit for consumption. Rajiv Panigrahi, the executive engineer, RWSS said, “Since about 7 years the villagers are being supplied the treated water of Sono river after the ground water was found unsafe for consumption. The water is provided to a length of about 5 km and 13 tubewells have been marked as unfit”.

The villagers on the other hand that they were forced to use tubewells as in the tail end they find hardly any pressure, besides during power cut they don’t get water.

“The water samples collected from these patches have been sent to Institute of minerals and materials testing in Bhubaneswar. Further one more sample would sent to Ahmedabad to ascertain the fluoride content,” said Utkarsha Bharadwaj, the team coordinator.

He further observed that the Sono river water supply had not mitigated the fluoride crisis as children of age between 3-4 too were found with dental flourosis.

“On the recommendation of the team further action would be initiated. The crisis is alarming and if not handled, more and more people will fall victim to the fluorosis,” said Jena, the MP.