Fluoride Action Network

Fluorine in vegetation due to an uncontrolled release of gaseous fluorides from a glassworks: A case study of measurement uncertainty, dispersion pattern and compliance with regulation.

Source: Environmental Pollution, 248:958-964. | February 25th, 2019 | By Stepec D, Tavcar G, Ponikvar-Svet M.
Location: Slovenia
Industry type: Glassworks



  • F contents determined in five plant species from the surrounding of glassworks.
  • Up to 125 times higher F contents in vegetation from influenced than clean area.
  • Release of gaseous fluorides proven.
  • Inverse-power function fit of F contents with respect to the distances from emitter.
  • Lack of regulation regarding F? contents in diet for human and animal consumption.

This study was initiated after the appearance of chlorotic and necrotic lesions on vegetation in the vicinity of a glassworks. The aim was to establish whether the cause was an uncontrolled release of gaseous fluorides. Five different plant species (Norway spruce, peach, common hornbeam, common bean, common grape vine) were collected in the influenced area, and the fluorine (F) content was determined by a fluoride ion selective electrode after prior total sample decomposition by alkaline carbonate fusion. The measurement results were reported together with their measurement uncertainties (MUs), which were evaluated according to the Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement. The F contents at comparable distances from the emitter and in a clean area, free from natural or anthropogenic fluoride emissions, were 87-676 and 10??g?g-1, respectively, thereby confirming the release of gaseous fluorides from the glassworks. The F contents in samples of Norway spruce taken at various radial distances from the emitter suggest that the emitted gaseous fluorides were spread about evenly in all directions from the source following an inverse-power function. Estimated distances at which the F content would decrease to 50??g?g-1 (allowed maximum content of F in feeding stuffs) and 21??g?g-1 (maximum fluoride content in vegetables and fruits in relation to the upper limit of fluoride intake for humans) were 378?m and 571?m, respectively, from the emitter. Evaluation of our results for compliance with specification revealed a lack of regulation on fluoride content in the diet of humans and animals as well as a lack of guidelines on how to take into account MU.

*Abstract online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749118346979?via%3Dihub