A research team led by Simon Lewis from the University of Bath’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies has developed a color-changing test which can help in preventing Skeletal fluorosis (a bone disease) and can detect the amount of fluoride in drinking water.
Lack of clean drinking water has put over 11.5 million people of India at a very high risk of fluorosis—a crippling bone disease.
Uttar Pradesh has 75 districts, Madhya Pradesh 51, Bihar 38, and Rajasthan 33 districts whose people are at a very high risk of fluorosis.
Fluorosis, a chronic public health problem, is caused by excess intake of fluoride through drinking water or food products or industrial pollutants over a long period. It results in major health disorders like dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis and non-skeletal fluorosis. Dental fluorosis affects children and discolours and disfigures the teeth. The teeth could be chalky white and may have white, yellow, brown or black spots or streaks on the enamel surface.
Skeletal fluorosis affects the bones and major joints of the body like the neck, back bone, shoulder, hip and knee joints, causing severe pain, rigidity or stiffness in the joints. In severe, forms it results in marked disability.
The union health ministry, under its National Programme of Prevention and Control of Fluorosis (NPPCF), in association with the ministry of drinking water and sanitation, has started a baseline survey to assess the actual burden of the disease in identified states.
The NPPCF aims to prevent and control Fluorosis cases in the country. The union health ministry will assess and use the baseline survey data of fluorosis of the ministry of drinking water and sanitation and aims to build capacity for prevention, diagnosis and management of fluorosis through medication and surgery.
About the new research:
- The researchers are partnering with the Nasio Trust, a charity that works to protect and support vulnerable children in East Africa, to develop their system for ease of use in the field
- The team aims to develop it into a disposable test strip that is low cost and easy to use by anyone
- The strip will allow people to perform a test that is inexpensive, rapid and robust without any scientific training
- Most water quality monitoring systems need a lab and power supply and a trained operator to work them
The team developed a molecule that simply changes color in a few minutes which can tell the higher level of fluoride