Fluoride Action Network

Determining the optimum locations for pumping low-fluoride groundwater to distribute to communities in a fluoridic area in the Upper East Region, Ghana

Source: Chemical Geology, 476:481-492. | January 5th, 2018 | By L Craig, JM Thomas, A Lutz, and DL Decker.
Location: Ghana

Abstract: Groundwater is the primary source of water in the Upper East Region of Ghana, and is generally considered a safe source of drinking water; but there are pockets where the groundwater contains high concentrations of fluoride due to the dissolution of minerals in the local granite. The goal of this study is to evaluate the hydrogeology and hydrogeochemistry of an area where dental fluorosis endemic, in order to identify the optimum locations to pump and distribute low-fluoride groundwater. As expected, the data indicate that the higher elevation recharge areas with outcrops of Bongo granite have elevated concentrations of fluoride in the groundwater (up to 4.6 mg L? 1), posing the highest risk of fluorosis in the nearby communities. The lower elevation areas, which are the farthest from the Bongo granitic, have the lowest groundwater fluoride (< 0.5 mg L? 1) and the lowest risk of fluorosis. Groundwater flow models suggest that the steady decrease in fluoride is driven by dispersion, with the fluoride concentrations dropping to the World Health Organization’s recommended drinking water limit of 1.5 mg L? 1 at about 400–500 m from the source. The optimum locations to install boreholes (or use existing boreholes) for piping low fluoride groundwater to the higher fluoride areas, would be at or beyond this distance. Although the initial costs of developing such a water system would be substantial, this is a potentially viable option for providing low fluoride water to communities suffering from fluorosis.

*See full study at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009254117306745