Prof. D.B. Malpe Talks About Ill Effects of Excess Fluorine in Groundwater at GGS AGM 2019.

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Malpe Talks About Ill Effects of Excess Fluorine in Groundwater at GGS AGM 2019

                                                  And Child Prodigy Sreenabh Agrawal Feted

The Gondwana Geological Society organised it’s AGM on Tuesday 17 December 2019. Prof D.B. Malpe of the PG Geology Department delivered a talk on “Sources and Health Effects of Groundwater Fluoride Contamination” and the child prodigy Sreenabh Agrawal, 16, a student of Std XI of CDS School, Nagpur, with his galaxy of achievements and records at this young age, was felicitated.

Dr Malpe said that the tolerable content of fluorine in water is 0.6 mg per litre, whereas the Bureau of Indian Standards suggests 1.0 mg/l  and the World Health Organisation recommends 1.5 mg/l.  In tropical countries, the consumption of water is higher and hence the threshold of 0.6 to 1.0 mg/l is acceptable. Dental fluorosis results in case of excess fluorine.  During the 1930’s excess fluorine content was detected in cattle in Nalgonda dist, and later also found in humans for the first time in India. Fluorine enters the body through ingestion, inhalation and rarely through the skin surface.  The content of fluorite, fluorapatite, cryolite, apophyllite in country rocks and also through soil and clay minerals replacing hydroxyl minerals are causative factors for groundwater fluorine contamination, Prof Malpe said.  Fluorite veins, amphibole and mica and fluoride rich hydroxyl minerals decompose and alkaline waters with pH of 7.6 to 8.6 and so also high content of total dissolved salts (TDS), aid higher fluorine content. High nitrate concentration, poor sanitation around bore wells and dug wells are also responsible factors. Dental caries, skeletal fluorosis (with fluorine at 4 to 8 mg/l of water), arthritis, stiffness of joints and rheumatism are common in the people living in such fluoride endemic areas. Poker back, with the spine becoming stiff and the person unable to bend his neck  is also reported in such areas according to Prof Malpe. Non-skeletal fluorosis includes reproductive, gastro-intestinal and other diseases reported from such areas, with fluorine contamination.  Prof Malpe and his team’s study focused on 3602 persons of which 3268 were selected for health surveys in parts of Wardha and Chandrapur dists.  The faculty of Sharad Pawar Dental College and Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Sawangi Meghe, Wardha, helped with their support for the case studies. The persons were divided into three age groups of (1-18), ( 19-60) and (60 plus) and were rated as suffering from low, normal, moderate and severe categories of fluorosis. The preponderance is low among the lower age groups, while dental fluorosis cases are maximum in the 60 plus age group. Males have reported 60 %, while females report 40 % of the total cases,  which is due to the fact that many females join in-laws place later in life, but are brought up in non- fluorine endemic areas. Besides, as they are engaged in hard labour the water consumption by males is higher, which affects them Prof Malpe said.  Normal kidney function is very important and impaired renal function with lower excretion, results in retention of fluorine in the body. Remedies to treat the excess fluorine content include creation of Deflourination plant (Nalgonda technique) and treatment in water buckets activated with alumina. Defluorination technique is not successful. The villagers in such areas  have been provided water buckets with alumina by the authorities. Alumina has to be replaced every one year or so, but is not regularly done. Ground water artificial recharging can help minimize fluorine content. The authorities are supplying good quality, potable water from other areas in many villages, but not all villages under the study areas are catered to.  Besides mass awareness programmes, with education of the masses is the need of the hour. If calcium and phosphorus rich diets are taken fluorine retention can be checked. Mid-day meals need to be nutritious for children, Prof Malpe said.

Child prodigy Sreenabh Agrawal , 16, had presented a research paper entitled  “‘Viyog’- grey water segregation for conservation: a green method using Typha Elephantina”, during the very recent GGS National seminar on challenges in ground and surface water resources and has now the distinction of being the youngest researcher to present a paper in all the 16  GGS national symposiums since 1993 till date. He was felicitated with a memento by Dr Anjan Chatterjee, President, GGS, for his sterling achievement. The child’s bio data runs into 27 pages with national and international level achievements and is a matter of inspiration for one and all. Sreenabh spoke on the occasion and thanked the organisers.

Dr P.B. Sarolkar, Secretary, conducted the proceedings. Dr Samaya Humane presented the Treasurer’s report, and Prof A.M. Varade as Organising Secretary, gave an account of the just concluded national seminar. Seated on the dais were Dr P.B.Sarolkar, Dr Anjan Chatterjee, Prof A.M. Pophare, HoD, PG Geology Department. The vote of thanks was proposed by S.N. Girhe, ex Sr Chemist, GSI. 

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