Fluoride in groundwater: toxicological exposure and remedies.
Fluoride is a chemical element that is found most frequently in groundwater and has become one of the most important toxicological environmental hazards globally. The occurrence of fluoride in groundwater is due to weathering and leaching of fluoride-bearing minerals from rocks and sediments. Fluoride when ingested in small quantities (<0.5 mg/L) is beneficial in promoting dental health by reducing dental caries, whereas higher concentrations (>1.5 mg/L) may cause fluorosis. It is estimated that about 200 million people, from among 25 nations the world over, may suffer from fluorosis and the causes have been ascribed to fluoride contamination in groundwater including India. High fluoride occurrence in groundwaters is expected from sodium bicarbonate-type water, which is calcium deficient. The alkalinity of water also helps in mobilizing fluoride from fluorite (CaF2). Fluoride exposure in humans is related to (1) fluoride concentration in drinking water, (2) duration of consumption, and (3) climate of the area. In hotter climates where water consumption is greater, exposure doses of fluoride need to be modified based on mean fluoride intake. Various cost-effective and simple procedures for water defluoridation techniques are already known, but the benefits of such techniques have not reached the rural affected population due to limitations. Therefore, there is a need to develop workable strategies to provide fluoride-safe drinking water to rural communities. The study investigated the geochemistry and occurrence of fluoride and its contamination in groundwater, human exposure, various adverse health effects, and possible remedial measures from fluoride toxicity effects.
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