BENGALURU: MV Shashirekha, 68, who retired as chief chemist from the department of mines and geology, didn’t restrict her work to the lab. She crisscrossed the state to study the situation on the ground. After retiring in 2011, she worked as a consultant with Karnataka Remote Sensing Application Centre till 2015 where she drew up maps to show flouride contamination in Karnataka. The maps were based on about 10,000 water samples which were tested.
Shashirekha said the data she has compiled “is only the tip of the iceberg” and more that 75% of the state is affected by fluoride. Pavagada in Tumakauru and Chikkaballapur are some of the worst affected places in the state.
“One of the biggest problems in handling fluorosis is that fluoride-contaminated water has the same colour and tastes the same as regular water,” Shashirekha said. “fluorosis is a difficult condition to prevent. Every time we go to the worst-affected areas for surveys people ask us one question: ‘If we cannot use borewell water, what water do we use?’”
She says treating fluoriderich water through reverse osmosis process is not a solution. “For every litre of water treated by RO process, nine litres of fluoride rich water gets back into the ground,” she said. “Can we afford to waste nine litres of water for one litre of drinking water and sell it for just Rs 20?”
Diet the way forward
Shashirekha says consuming food rich in calcium is the only solution. “Including calcium-rich food like amla, groundnuts, spinach and milk in one’s diet can help beat the ill-effects of fluoride as calcium reacts with fluoride to converts it to chlorine fluoride that is flushed out of the body through the digestion process. There is a need to spread awareness about this,” she said.
One of the biggest problems in handling fluorosis is that fluoridecontaminated water has the same colour and tastes the same as regular water.
FORMER MINES AND GEOLOGY