- September 14, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject – Environment
Context – Not just groundwater, flouride has poisoned agricultural soil, crops in Bengal.
- West Bengal has been grappling with groundwater contamination for decades. About 12 per cent of the population in eight of the state’s 23 districts is impacted by water contaminated by fluoride.
- Groundwater in Purulia and Bankura is already known to be fluoride-contaminated, as it crosses the desirable limit of 1.5 milligram per litres of concentration as per the World Health Organization standards.
- The study investigated the magnitude of fluoride contamination in agricultural land soil and food crops in these two districts as well as its adverse impact on the health of locals.
- The concentration of fluoride in groundwater above the permissible level is, therefore, a factor that contributes to the accumulation of fluoride in agricultural soil and crops, the study stated.
- There are three stages to fluoride toxicity: “First, the groundwater used for agricultural purposes deposits a good amount of fluoride in the soil. Then this fluoride is absorbed by crops, and it enters the food chain system, causing harm to the human body.”
- The study found that the accumulation of fluoride was higher in leafy and non-leafy vegetables than in pulses and cereals from both districts. The maximum accumulation was found in onion, while being minimum in rice.
- It also found that children were the most vulnerable to fluoride contamination due to their low body weight.
- Endemic skeletal fluorosis was reported from India in the 1930s, according to a WHO report. “It was observed first in bullocks in Andhra Pradesh. The bullocks could not walk, apparently due to painful and stiff joints,” the WHO report stated.
- Fluoride is an essential micronutrient and has both beneficial and detrimental effects on human health. However, exposure to high levels of fluoride causes dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis and non-skeletal fluorosis.
- Ligaments calcification, liver and kidney dysfunction, nerve weakness, developmental disorder, organ tissue damage, bending of legs, weakness, anemia, depression, gastrointestinal problems, loss of appetite, and brittle bone problems in children are some of the commonly seen health issues.
- It takes several years for skeletal fluorosis to show prominently. Children mostly suffer from dental fluorosis, a condition that is largely irreversible. Severe skeletal and non-skeletal issues become more prominent only after several years of continuous consumption of fluoride-contaminated food.
- Fluoride contamination is a chronic toxicity. It is the result of long-term exposure to a toxicant. But it does not cause an acute effect, so it gets neglected often.
- Ground water is the water that seeps through rocks and soil and is stored below the ground.