Community awareness on fluoride contaminant sources: a case study at Mount Meru slopes in Northern Tanzania
Mtei, Kelvin M.
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A study was conducted around the slopes of Mount Meru in Arumeru district of Arusha region at Ngarenanyuki ward, to update the awareness of the potential routes of human exposure to unacceptable levels of fluoride. Long term consumption of fluorine contaminated water and food, in addition to the use of fluoridated products, increases fluoride accumulation in the body. A cross-sectional, multi-phase sample design, in-depth structured questionnaires, informant interviews, and group discussions were carried out. Women aged between 15-45 years were involved. Participants identified water used for domestic purposes was the leading (68.63%) route of fluoride contaminant. Findings revealed that the majority (70.6%) of the participants were not aware of the potential sources of fluoride contaminants such as grown food crops/vegetables and fluoridated products. In addition, most (84.93%) of the respondents were using fluoridated toothpaste and children were not assisted or supervised as they use it which could lead to swallowing of the paste and increase the accumulation of fluoride in the body. Most (77 %) of the participants reported that their children had brown teeth enamel and use tap water as their primary source of domestic and drinking water. There were neither household‘s fluoride management methods nor alternative domestic water sources identified by participants at the household level. This study recommends an in-depth study to evaluate fluoride levels in all potential routes of contamination, to guide management of dental and skeletal fluorosis in the community. Interventions to reduce fluoride contamination in this endemic area are necessary to combat health risks associated with their exposure.