Sixty-eight-year-old Himanshu Chakrabarty of Brahman Tola village in Ghadbad panchayat of Dhanbad has suffered for more than 15 years from weak and deformed bones with almost no flesh on his body, limping around like a living skeleton. Now he has only one desire that is death. A patient of a crippling disease called fluorosis, which caused due to an excess intake of fluoride, Chakrabarty wants an end to his suffering. “I only want death,” he cries out in pain. “How much more do I have to suffer?”Fifty-year-old Savitri Mukherjee, a widow, lives alone and she cannot walk with her spine straight. “It started with pain in my shoulders, back and knees. But, for the last five years, I am walking with a bent back,” said Savitri. It’s been five years since I have seen the sky. There are several women like me.”Chakrabarty and Savitri are not the only two suffering in Brahman Tola of Dhanbad. “Each of the 68 households in our hamlet has at least one patient suffering from fluorosis,” resident Rajit Thakur told. “Almost 60% men and over 75% women of the tola are affected by the disease in some form or the other.”According to the residents of Brahman Tola, a couple of years ago, the Public Health Engineering Department or PHED tested water quality of hand pumps in their village. The PHED officials painted some hand pumps red and told us not to drink water from them, as they contained high levels of fluoride. But, the government has not provided any alternate source of water.The dental effects of fluorosis develop much earlier than the skeletal effects in people exposed to large amounts of fluoride, says WHO. Clinical dental fluorosis is characterized by staining and pitting of the teeth. In more severe cases, all the enamel may be damaged.
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