Fluoride in underground water in Muang Lamphun, Pa Sang and Ban Thi districts exceeds acceptable levels and villagers drinking the water are putting their health at risk, a dentist warned yesterday.

Water in the districts was found to have between 15 to 20 parts per million (PPM) of fluoride, which is high enough to be dangerous, said Kamol Laohakul.

“It can cost lives because it will be like drinking poison. The fluoride would destroy bones and organs. Yellow and decaying teeth is just the beginning and the problem should be solved urgently,” he said. “We need the government to determinedly back us on this as it could use its big budget to find alternative water sources for villagers.”

Most worrisome, Kamol said, was that villagers do not realise they are in danger and some still use the water to make milk for their babies. Provincial authorities have already issued warnings, but many villagers do not pay attention.

Provincial waterworks official Surasak Limchareun yesterday admitted the problem was difficult to solve. More than 80 per cent of Lamphun residents rely on underground wells for their water.

It was found that Lamphun’s water had about 10 to 15PPM of fluoride, while acceptable levels should not exceed 1PPM, Kamol said. Water in Lamphun municipality has about 0.6PPM, which is within the standards but still too high.

Ban Thi resident Somjit Pali said her family bought only bottled water. No villagers have dared drink the underground water for the past three years ago, since the time someone boiled rice and it turned grey. Public health officials then told villagers the water contained too much fluoride.

However, the matter got the attention of the Cabinet at its mobile meeting in Lamphun on Tuesday, when Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti was assigned to tackle the highfluoride problem in the province.