Jaipur, An alarming one fourth of the rural population in Rajasthan, India’s largest state, suffers from fluorosis, a debilitating disease that damages bones and teeth, research by a voluntary body shows. “The incidence of fluorosis, caused by an excess of fluoride compounds in drinking water, has been rising at an alarming rate in the state,” says Mahitosh Bagoria of Health Environment and Development Consortium.
“It is estimated that around 25 percent of the rural population in the state is affected,” he said.
Research by the Jaipur-based Consortium holds excessive fluoride in groundwater as the primary cause for the occurrence of fluorosis in Rajasthan.
In the absence of major rivers or other sources of fresh water, people depend heavily on groundwater.
Fluoride concentration in Rajasthan’s groundwater is much higher than the permissible limit of 0.6-1.5 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride recommended for potable purposes.
Fluoride levels in 8,440 out of 24,405 villages were found to be more than 1.5 ppm.
The disease was virtually crippling the victims, Bagoria told IANS.
Villagers who consume non-potable water suffer from yellow, cracked teeth, joint pains and crippled limbs and also age rapidly.
Geology plays a key role in defining fluoride concentrations. Areas that have potentially high fluoride concentrations include those with crystalline basement rocks, especially granite.
These contain relatively high concentrations of fluorine bearing minerals and have low calcium concentrations. Large parts of Rajasthan have this type of geological formation.
Bagoria said efforts to deal with fluorosis had so far been limited to pilot projects initiated by a few organisations. These experiments hardly reached sufficient levels of significance, he said.