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Friday, January 19, 2018

Drink of death: Agra’s dark secret

Drink of death: Agra’s dark secret

Source: India Today | January 18th, 2018 | By Siraj Qureshi
Location: India
     In Patti Pachgai, the overall prevalence of skeletal fluorosis was 21.2 per cent and in some pockets it was as high as 30 per cent. Some residents had also crippling deformities like kyphosis and scoliosis.
The source of drinking water in these villages is primarily hand pumps.

Agra – home to the Taj Mahal plus other Mughal-era monuments – is a magnet for tourists, both domestic as well as foreign.

And besides lugging their cameras, tote bags and ruck sacks tourists carry the ubiquitous water bottles. For among Agra’s darkest secrets is the city’s undrinkable water.

Recently the Agra administration got the water in Agra tested and it was found that in most of the Agra district, the fluoride levels in the water are way higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

A senior water works official told India Today that in five districts of Uttar Pradesh, the subsoil water has been found to have higher than normal fluoride levels.

The Central government has issued an alert, asking the UP government to take immediate action to resolve this situation.

He said that the affected UP districts include Agra, Ghazipur, Jhansi, Sonbhadra and Varanasi. Earlier Unnao, Raibareli, Firozabad, Mathura and Pratapgarh had also been counted in the fluoride-affected districts.

Since 2009 the National Fluorosis Prevention and Control Programme has been running in UP with the state government operating water-testing laboratories in the initially identified fluoride affected districts.

There has been a growing chorus for more funds to establish labs and buy equipment and reagents; there’s also the need for more manpower.

According to the health department sources, when the fluoride content of water rises above 1-1.5 parts per million (ppm), it starts creating health related issues — fluorosis — in the people drinking this water. This limit has been fixed by the WHO.

Fluorosis damages teeth and bones, according to Dr SK Kalra, a senior physician. He said that the early signs of the disease are vomiting, loss of appetite, flatulence, bloating, yellowing teeth, frequent urination, excessive thirst, joint pain, hunched back and crooked legs among others.

Dr Sushma Singh, deputy director of State Institute of Health and Family Welfare said that the central government has notified five districts that are affected by fluorosis and water-testing labs are being established there, for which budget has been requested under the National Health Mission.

Excessively high fluoride content causes ‘Fluorosis’

To Your Health!

Let the GIC Know You Are Outraged

From:    MTA President Barbara Madeloni
              MTA Vice President Erik J. Champy

To:        All MTA Members

Re:       Let the GIC Know You Are Outraged

The Group Insurance Commission - in what the MTA considers a travesty of government by the administration of Governor Charlie Baker - voted on Thursday to drastically reduce the number of carriers offering health insurance to active and retired state and municipal employees throughout Massachusetts.

The impact of the vote - taken with no public notice on its crucial specifics - is wide-ranging and will have an impact on hundreds of thousands of employees, including many educators, as well as on their families.

The hypocrisy of the action, taken just before the GIC will conduct a series of hearings around the state and after "listening tour" sessions at which the plan was not discussed, is stunning.

And the time is now for MTA members to make their voices heard.

Members are urged to go here for a list of GIC hearing dates - and they are strongly urged to sign up to attend a meeting and tell the commissioners what they think of this outrageous decision.

The secrecy surrounding the vote was astonishing. It was taken with only a few hours' notice even to members of the GIC. The result was eight to five, with two abstentions. MTA member Timothy Sullivan and the four other labor representatives voted against the motion.

For active employees, the number of carriers is being cut from six to three: UniCare, Neighborhood Health Plan and Health New England. Participants will no longer be able to sign up for Fallon Health, Tufts Health Plan or Harvard Pilgrim Health Care after July 1.

Medicare carriers were cut from five to two: UniCare and Tufts Health Plan. And for the estimated 10,000 retired municipal teachers in what is known as "Pool 2," UniCare will be the only carrier.

In a further outrage, as noted by the State House News Service: "The GIC anticipates that nearly half of its members will be able to retain their current health plans, while the remaining 200,000-plus members will automatically migrate to new plans and have an opportunity to select a new plan during annual enrollment if they wish."


North Korean nuclear weapons base collapses and falls into the sea near site of tunnel disaster


The base is in the same region where 200 workers are rumoured to have died following an implosion at  test site last year