Our study on
CRIPPLING FLUOROSIS IN ASSAM

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In the picturesque village (Photograph-2) Napak-Killing, we met a man called Borsing Killing to be the most severely affected. He is 31 years old and can not move his body or stretch his leg (Photograph-3). He also has severe dental fluorosis (Photograph-4). Mr. Borsing was telling that only 10 years back he was going to the hills and working on his field. Slowly he became crippled. Mr. Borsing is drinking water having a fluoride content of 14.36 µg/l, and he did not know before we met him that hat he was suffering from fluorosis.

Total population of these five villages is approximately 2000 and out of that we had examined only 305 people and found 144 (47.2%) people suffering from dental fluorosis. We collected water samples of those who are suffering. After analysing the samples we have found those who have dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis are drinking highly fluoride contaminated water. Table-3 shows the analytical report.

Table-3 Analysis of hand tubewells from 5 villages of Karbi-Anglong district

Total hand tubewells analysed No. of tubewells safe to drink (up to 1.0 µg/l fluoride) Between 1.1 - 2.0 µg/l, fluoride Between 8-15 µg/l, fluoride
19 1 5 13

The analytical report shows that 68.4% of the tubewells contain fluoride between 8 and 15 µg/l and those drink such highly contaminated water are likely to be affected.

Out of the total people we had examined 27 have the symptom of skeletal fluorosis and all of then are drinking highly fluoride contaminated water (between 8 and 15 µg/l). Photographs-5,6,7 show some people suffering from skeletal fluorosis in 5 villages of Karbi Anglong district. They are drinking tubewell water having fluoride 10.06, 13.6, 9.6 µg/l respectively. All of them also have severe dental fluorosis. They are drinking water from those contaminated tubewells for many years.

Villagers think this crippling disease of their village is due to "Curse of God" or "Wrath of God".

Diphu Ranfar (Photograph-8; fluoride in his tubewell 8.09 µg/l) a local young man of 30, said he could remember his dental problems started when he was 8-10 years old, and with time, it is increasing. Interestingly he accepts it as normal since most of people in his village have similar symptoms for years. Young girls have the same dental fluorosis (Photograph 9, 10). I asked a group of young girls (Photograph-11) what they felt about their teeth ? They said that in their village, they were quite comfortable, as most people had the problem, but usually they hid their teeth before strangers. What astonished me further was that when I asked them what they thought of marriage, they laughed (Photograph-11) and said they would marry someone from their village who had the same problem.

What mothers in the affected villages said was more shoking. They told me that all their children had beautiful 'milk teeth', but once the milk tooth fell and the new tooth came, the signs of discoloration and strain invariably appeared (Photograph-12).

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