Fluoride Action Network


‘Water is life,’ so central to human life, yet over one billion people across the world have no access to safe drinking water. Of late, there has been increasing global attention focused on resolving water quality problems especially in developing countries, as the lack of access to clean water denies the most essential of all rights, the right to life. The latest estimates suggest that around 200 million people, from among 25 nations the world over, are under the dreadful fate of fluorosis. India and China, the two most populous countries of the world, are the worst affected. India is plagued with numerous water quality problems due to prolific contaminants mainly of geogenic origin and fluoride stands first among them. The weathering of primary rocks and leaching of fluoride-containing minerals in soils yield fluoride rich groundwater in India which is generally associated with low calcium content and high bicarbonate ions. The unfettered ground water tapping exacerbates the failure of drinking water sources and accelerates the entry of fluoride into groundwater. Most of the scientific literature substantiates the benefits of low fluoride concentrations in preventing dental decay. However, as a surprising paradox, incidence of dental, skeletal and crippling skeletal fluorosis was reported in India with average fluoride concentrations as low as 0.5, 0.7 and 2.8 ppm respectively. Fluorosis, turns out to be the most widespread geochemical disease in India, affecting more than 66 million people including 6 million children under 14 years age. Though fluoride has spread its tentacles in 36,988 habitations and the number of people falling prey to fluoride poisoning have been steadily increasing, an exact exposure-health relationship is yet to be properly elucidated. There is an essential relation between poverty and fluorosis as malnutrition is found to play an aggressive role in its severity.