As many as 27 states have received notices from National Human Rights Commission seeking detailed reports on the measures they have taken to address excess of fluoride in drinking water. The states have been given six weeks to respond, The Hindu has reported.
“The commission’s directions followed a presentation by the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation before it on the January 20 on the problem of fluorosis in various States and short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions for mitigating the problem of contamination in drinking water,” an NHRC statement cited by The Hindu reads.
The Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation had informed the NHRC that there were more than 1,000 fluorosis-affected habitations in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Also, more than 100 habitations are affected in Bihar, Karnataka, Odisha, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Assam, Haryana, Uttaranchal, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura, the ministry said.
“The Commission had taken suo motu cognizance of a media [The Hindu] report alleging fluoride above permissible levels in drinking water in 14,132 habitations in 19 States and had asked the Secretary, Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to make a presentation on the gravity of the problem and the steps taken by the Central and various State Governments to combat it,” the NHRC has said in its statement.
Earlier, The Hindu had reported that the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry was worried that a huge population was at risk of serious health conditions such as skeletal fluorosis owing to the excessive levels of fluoride in their drinking water.
Ingestion of an excess of fluoride, most commonly found in drinking-water, can cause fluorosis which affects teeth and bones. While exposure to moderate amounts of fluoride has effects on the teeth, long-term ingestion of fluoride in large amounts can lead to severe skeletal problems. Paradoxically, an intake of low levels of fluoride helps prevent dental caries.