Serve to Change Lives Rotary 2021

The water in many areas of the world has too much fluoride. As a dentist, I am, or maybe was, a believer in fluoride. Fluoride was first put into the water as a cavity decreasing method in Grand Rapids Michigan. It had been researched and studied in Colorado that the small amount of fluoride decreases dental decay. The optimum amount is 1-1.5 ppm, a very small amount. There are fluoride belts geographically, most notably India, China Africa and even the USA . These “belts” contain naturally occurring amounts of fluoride that are thousands of times more ppm than optimal.

We are driving to a Primary school in Bahati near Nukuru. We took an Uber to meet the van driver. It’s an old rickety van with broken seats and ill functioning seatbelts. The roads have a lot of pot holes. Traffic is busy with semis and other large trucks driving north and then south to Uganda and Sudan. It’s a three hour drive.

I am reminded of the book, “Learning to Breathe,” by Alison Wright. She survived a logging truck hitting the bus she was in. She escaped through a bus window that she happened to open. All of her organs that were supposed to be on her left side were forced into her right side. This happened in one of my favorite cities, Luang Pabang. It’s a great read. I have been trying to get her to speak in Coronado. She had some connections there many years ago. She is a phenomenal National Geographic photographer.

So the van we are in is a little rusty and the roads are bumpy. It’s will be a threeish hour drive.

These cargo containers are used for small stores
Rift Valley
Road side shopping
Busy roads
Zebras and monkeys along the way

We finally arrived at the school.

The Primary School

This school has 3000 attendees from ages 4-13. They grow food and harvest water.

Head masters and Joe

One of three de-fluoridation tanks at the school, although one is currently broken. These treat a fraction of the water that is needed per day. The two tanks produce about 400 liters of de-fluoridated water each day, and the school estimates that they need approximately 28,000 liters per day to feed the children and teachers, use for cleaning rooms and sanitation, and for watering crops made on site for the students. They also harvest rain water, which is lower in fluoride amounts, but still not at the recommended levels.

The problem with the excessive amounts of fluoride is due to expansion of the area. A 40 year resident told us that when he first was in the area, the water came from the surrounding mountains. Eventually there were pipes to collect, retrieve and use the water without the long journey of walking to get it. As the area developed the need for water increased. Water bore holes solved this problem. The holes that were shallow were ok for awhile, but the deeper one has to drill the more fluoride in the water, way too much fluoride and this is when the problem of fluorosis began. No one checked the levels of fluoride. Fluorosis is deemed a disease. It affects the hydroxyapatite in the teeth and bones. This starts in utero, in the womb of a woman bearing a child. The disease begins when the mother is 5-6 months pregnant, as this is when the permanent teeth begin to calcify. Once the child is about 6 years old, no more fluorosis of the teeth occurs, but the excessive fluoride also affects the bones. This part of fluorosis affects the joints and long bones, causing more fractures than a normal person would have at all ages. In the areas of the greatest amount of fluoride in the water, younger people are knock-kneed and older people turn into crawlers, just like those stricken with Polio.

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