The spectre of fluoride contamination has come to haunt schoolchildren in Odisha’s Nuapada district with potable water sources in as many as 54 schools and anganwadi premises testing for fluoride presence beyond permissible limits.

Prolonged consumption of fluoride contaminated water leads to dental and skeletal fluorosis. Commonly, mottled teeth and crippled backbone and limbs are manifestation of the disease.

Health hazard

Consumption of water having fluoride content above 1.5 mg per litre is considered dangerous to health.

An alarming level of fluoride presence has been found in Bharuamunda High School in Sinapali block of Nuapada. Laboratory tests certified by the National Rural Drinking Water Programme under the Union Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry found 5.25 mg per litre fluoride content in water sourced from a tube well in the school. Water of another tube well dug recently on the school premises has not been tested.

As many as 232 students, including 65 hostel boarders, of the school have little option for safe drinking water as water samples from 15 sources in Bharuamunda village sent for laboratory tests confirmed fluoride contamination in 2018-19.

“It is very important to make immediate alternative arrangement for safe drinking water for students. Adverse impact of fluoride contamination is very high on children. Bones in children are in formation stage while fluoride tends to damage bones,” said Bimal Pandia, an expert on water.

Mr. Pandia said the State government should make fresh health assessment of all students consuming fluoride-laced water and try to find out if they have developed dental fluorosis. “Once their backbone and limbs are affected subsequent to dental fluorosis, it will be difficult to cure the disease,” he pointed out.

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