Alappuzha: Even though dental fluorosis remains a major health problem in the district, the authorities have not implemented any of the suggestions that experts have made.
The percentage of fluorosis incidence among children in the district is 40 currently while it was 35.6 in 1997. The overall prevalence of dental fluorosis in the district is 40 per cent and the community fluorosis index is 0.69.
Dr P. Gopalakrishnan, former project officer of Fluorosis Research Centre (FRC) at T.D. Medical College here, told Deccan Chronicle that active steps must be taken to defluoridate the water before distribution to reduce the morbidity associated with dental fluorosis.
He also added that the latest study showed a step-by-step increase in the prevalence of dental fluorosis corresponding with the increase in the fluoride content in the water in the various panchayats of the district.
The prevalence of dental fluorosis is higher in the urban areas compared to the rural, higher in girls than boys and higher among children who consumed pipe water compared to those who consumed well water, Dr Gopalakrishnan pointed out.
“The drinking water supply system in the district had a lot to do with its rising prevalence. While surface water is being distributed in most places, it is the fluoride-strong groundwater that is being distributed in Alappuzha. While the internationally accepted level of fluoride in groundwater is 1 particle per molecule (ppm), the level in several places in Alappuzha is 2.5 ppm, which is considered a toxic dose,” he said.
Dental fluorosis has created fluoride-generated diseases here. There is incidence here of related ailments, such as skeletal fluorosis, knock-knee, bow leg, spinal issues leading to neurological problems, abdominal discomfort, low birth weight and infertility in males owing to abnormality in sperms.
“It’s not just groundwater that has played villain, but high consumption of black tea, with tea leaves containing fluoride is another reason,” Dr. Gopalakrishnan said. He also added that the authorities would have to provide awareness classes and defluoridate the water for the people, not study the issue any further.
The funds received from the Central government’s fluorosis mitigation programme ought to be used to implement mechanisms whereby people could access defluoridated water. We have already conducted a community-based, cross-sectional survey of 1,142 school children (630 girls, 512 boys) in the age group of 10-17 years, using a multistage random cluster sampling technique. In fact, the authorities have been committing a crime, he added.
According to District Medical Officer C. Muraleedharan Pillai, the district had been allotted `40 lakh for the fluorosis mitigation programme.