Fluoride Action Network

Spatial analysis and GIS mapping of regional hotspots and potential health risk of fluoride concentrations in groundwater of northern Tanzania

Source: Science of The Total Environment 735:139584 | June 9th, 2020
Location: Tanzania


  • Fluoride occurence in groundwater systems of the study area is space dependent.
  • The univariate local Moran’s I statistic has been used to identify significant regional hotspots and cool spots.
  • Geoinformation on hotspots and cool spots is important for planning of new safe drinking water source development.
  • Fluoride is mobilized from volcanic igneous rocks of intermediate chemical composition between mafic and felsic rocks.
  • Potential processes include dissolution of fluoride bearing minerals mainly titanite, amphibole, hornblende and biotite.


Safe drinking water supply systems in naturally contaminated hydrogeological environments require precise geoinformation on contamination hotspots. Spatial statistical methods and GIS were used to study fluoride occurrence in groundwater and identify significant spatial patterns using fluoride concentrations. The global and local Morans I indices were used. While the significant positive global Morans I index indicated spatial structure in fluoride occurrence, the significant spatial clusters were identified using local Morans I index and mapped at p-value of 0.05. The spatial clusters demonstrated patterns of drinking water sources with fluoride concentrations below or above WHO guideline and Tanzania standard for drinking water and were considered as ‘regional fluoride cool spots’ and ‘regional fluoride contamination hotspots’, respectively. Two regional fluoride contamination hotspots were identified and mapped around the Stratovolcano Mountains in the north-east and south-west of the study area; and along the Neogene Quaternary volcanic formations and Palaeo-Neoproterozoic East African Orogen (Mozambique Belt). The two largest regional fluoride cool spots dominated the major and minor rift escarpments in the west and east of the study area respectively while the small ones emerged around the volcanic mountains in the north and south. Furthermore, significant spatial outliers emerged at the boundary of regional fluoride hotspots and cool spots as an indication of the spatial processes controlling the mobilization of fluoride in groundwater. While all water sources in the cool spots had fluoride concentrations below 1.5 mg/L, some had extremely low concentrations below 0.5 mg/L which is not safe for human consumption. For hotspots, 96% of water sources had fluoride concentrations above 1.5 mg/L. The probability of having safe source of drinking water varied from one geological unit to another with sources in the Neogene Quaternary volcanic formations having least probabilities.

*Read the full article online at http://fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/ijumulana-2020.pdf