Fluoride Action Network

Groundwater fluoride in Sri Lanka: opportunities to mitigate the risk at maximum contaminant level

Source: The Ceylon Medical Journal; 63(4):174-179. | December 31st, 2018 | By Ranasinghe N, Kruger E, Chandrajith R, Tennant M.
Location: Sri Lanka

Abstract: High groundwater fluoride (F) is one of the major environmental hazards in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The prolonged exposure to F at maximum contaminant levels can give rise to lifelong debility and disability among its inhabitants.

Objectives: This study investigated the F contamination in groundwater resources in Sri Lanka above recommended Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) and possibilities to mitigate the health risk.

Methods: Groundwater samples (6107) were randomly collected from different geographic areas of the country, and categorised as hazardous, if it exceeded the maximum contaminant level of 4 mg/L (the level at which bone health is compromised). The minimum distances from a hazardous to a relatively safe F groundwater source (below 1.0 mg/L and 1.5 mg/L) were determined using geospatial analysis. Results: Only 2.3% (142) of the total sample was found to be hazardous to skeletal health. Optimal F sources were identified in close proximity to highly contaminated sources (>4.0 mg/L), some even within a walking distance of 500 metres.

Conclusions: The identification and elimination of maximally contaminated sources, possibly by dilution with widely available low F sources in close proximity, would be a more feasible and cost effective approach to ensure long term public health benefits.

*Read full study at http://fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/ranasinghe-2018.pdf