480 Million India Inhabitants Exposed to Elevated Arsenic and Fluoride

Chakraborti D, Rahman MM, Chatterjee A, Das D, Das B, Nayak B, Pal A, Chowdhury UK, Ahmed S, Biswas BK, Sengupta MK, Lodh D, Samanta G, Chakraborty S, Roy MM, Dutta RN, Saha KC, Mukherjee SC, Pati S, Kar PB. Fate of over 480 million inhabitants living in arsenic and fluoride endemic Indian districts: Magnitude, health, socio-economic effects and mitigation approaches. Journal of trace elements in medicine and biology. 2016 Dec;38:33-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2016.05.001.

During our last 27 years of field survey in India, we have studied the magnitude of groundwater arsenic and fluoride contamination and its resulting health effects from numerous states. India is the worst groundwater fluoride and arsenic affected country in the world. Fluoride results the most prevalent groundwater related diseases in India. Out of a total 29 states in India, groundwater of 20 states is fluoride affected. Total population of fluoride endemic 201 districts of India is 411 million (40% of Indian population) and more than 66 million people are estimated to be suffering from fluorosis including 6 million children below 14 years of age. Fluoride may cause a crippling disease. In 6 states of the Ganga-Brahmaputra Plain (GB-Plain), 70.4 million people are potentially at risk from groundwater arsenic toxicity. Three additional states in the non GB-Plain are mildly arsenic affected. For arsenic with substantial cumulative exposure can aggravate the risk of cancers along with various other diseases. Clinical effects of fluoride includes abnormal tooth enamel in children; adults had joint pain and deformity of the limbs, spine etc. The affected population chronically exposed to arsenic and fluoride from groundwater is in danger and there is no available medicine for those suffering from the toxicity. Arsenic and fluoride safe water and nutritious food are suggested to prevent further aggravation of toxicity. The World Health Organization (WHO) points out that social problems arising from arsenic and fluoride toxicity eventually create pressure on the economy of the affected areas. In arsenic and fluoride affected areas in India, crisis is not always having too little safe water to satisfy our need, it is the crisis of managing the water.

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