NAGPUR: A research has revealed that India was one of the worst fluorosis affected countries, with over 10 lakh (one million) people suffering. This is because a large number of Indians rely on groundwater for drinking purposes and water at many places is rich in fluoride.
The research was conducted by a city-based team that also had Nagpur University registrar Mahesh Yenkie as one of the members. Sneha Jagtap, Nitin Labhsetwar and Sadhana Rayalu from the city-based NEERI were other members. Yenkie, in fact, had presented a paper on the subject at an international conference held in Germany recently.
The team reviewed the presence of fluoride in drinking water and studied the various processes involved in deflouridation, or the removal of fluoride from water. According to them, millions of people in the world drink water having fluoride content greater than the permissible value of 1.5 mg/litre.
“Flouride is naturally present in water. In small quantities, it is beneficial but when concentration exceeds a certain limit, it can be detrimental to teeth and bones, causing conditions such as dental and skeletal fluorosis. Dental fluorosis involves discoloration and weakening of teeth, while the skeletal condition may lead to arthritis and osteoporosis,” Yenkie, also director of Laxminaranyan Institute of Technology (LIT), told TOI.
According to him, people who rely on groundwater were at a greater risk of fluorosis, as fluoride concentration in groundwater was generally higher. “This is because water that percolates through the rocks leaches out fluoride present naturally in them. Fluoride concentration in groundwater at some places is almost eight times the maximum allowable,” he said.
He pointed out that fluoride ingestion from toothpaste was another cause of fluorosis. “Toothpastes generally contain a very high concentration of fluoride and thus we should avoid ingestion,” he warned.
The team also studied several methods used for the removal of fluoride from drinking water. They found out that techniques such as reverse osmosis, nano-filtration and electrodialysis were common. “However, adsorption-based techniques, in which another material is used to absorb the fluoride ions from the water, are the most promising in terms of cost and effectiveness. There has been a lot of research and innovation in the materials that can be used for adsorption,” Yenkie said adding that any technology should be tested with the intended water before implementation as the efficiency varied with quality of water.
* Millions in world drink water having fluoride more than permissible value.
* This is detrimental to teeth and bones, causing conditions such as dental and skeletal fluorosis.
* Dental fluorosis involves discoloration and weakening of teeth while the skeletal condition may lead to arthritis and osteoporosis.
* People who rely on groundwater are at greater risk.
* Fluoride concentration at some places is eight times maximum allowable.
* Fluoride ingestion from toothpaste is another cause of fluorosis.
* Adsorption-based defluoridation most promising in terms of cost and effectiveness.