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Monday, January 7, 2013

Fluorosis

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 limit.
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.

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