In our house, and at the school, we have a filter to remove fluoride from our drinking and cooking water.
Consumption of high levels of fluoride (and Arusha's water has high levels) can lead to fluorsis.
Throughout many parts of the world, high
concentrations of fluoride occurring naturally in groundwater and coal have
caused widespread fluorosis - a serious bone disease - among local populations.
We purposely fluoridate a range of everyday products, notably toothpaste and
drinking water, because for decades we have believed that fluoride in small
doses has no adverse effects on health to offset its proven benefits in
preventing dental decay. But more and more scientists are now seriously
questioning the benefits of fluoride, even in small amounts.
Water is a major source of fluoride intake. The 1984
WHO guidelines suggested that in areas with a warm climate, the optimal fluoride
concentration in drinking water should remain below 1 mg/litre (1ppm or part per
million), while in cooler climates it could go up to 1.2 mg/litre. The
differentiation derives from the fact that we perspire more in hot weather and
consequently drink more water. The guideline value (permissible upper limit) for
fluoride in drinking water was set at 1.5 mg/litre...
Dental fluorosis, which is characterized by discoloured, blackened, mottled or
chalky-white teeth, is a clear indication of overexposure to fluoride during
childhood when the teeth were developing. These effects are not apparent if the
teeth were already fully grown prior to the fluoride overexposure; therefore,
the fact that an adult may show no signs of dental fluorosis does not
necessarily mean that his or her fluoride intake is within the safety
Chronic intake of excessive fluoride can lead to
the severe and permanent bone and joint deformations of skeletal fluorosis.
Early symptoms include sporadic pain and stiffness of joints: headache,
stomach-ache and muscle weakness can also be warning signs. The next stage is
osteosclerosis (hardening and calcifying of the bones), and finally the spine,
major joints, muscles and nervous system are damaged.
Whether dental or skeletal, fluorosis is
irreversible and no treatment exists. The only remedy is prevention, by keeping
fluoride intake within safe limits.
(taken from UNICEF)
Today we took a local pastor, Edward Lukemay, to visit a project run by Eli Dahi (who made our water filter) to talk about the issue of trying to give some of the village areas Edward is involved with safe drinking water. Edward has been involved with the digging of bore holes to provide water to some Maasai villagers (over 600 people). Although they were able to find water the fluoride levels are incredibly high, ranging from 40 to 55 (remember the World Health Organisation recommends that the optimal fluoride concentration in drinking water should remain below 1 mg/litre!!). The issue is that to someone who desperately needs water, then water is water. The problem Edward now faces is looking for a solution to the high fluoride levels, and educating the people of the dangers of drinking this toxic water.
Eli showed us the process he is using to filter the fluoride out of the water.
Animal bones are burnt and then crushed.
Any dust/powder is sifted out.
The animal bone char absorbs fluoride ions without removing other healthy minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. Eli's water filters deliver water that have a concentration of 0.5mg/L of fluoride, and the filter column lasts about a year before it needs to be 'recharged'.
If you live in Arusha and are interested in purchasing a filter like we have, they are $100USD. Eli can be contacted on defluoride.tech (at) gmail (dot) com
Dear work colleagues from Australia - I used some of the money you gave me before I left to buy a water filter for a Tanzanian family today. They were very appreciative.