Fluoride Action Network


Fluoride levels in seven commercial phosphate fertilizers (four single superphosphate samples, two diammonium phosphate samples, and one ammonium nitrophosphate sample) were analyzed independently at three laboratories employing the techniques of ion chromatography and ion-selective electrode. The results were consistent for aqueous solutions containing 100?mg?L?1 (ppm) of fertilizer. The average values of fluoride from four different studies varied from 0.140?±?0.006–1.33?±?0.158% (w/w) for the seven fertilizer samples. The [P2O5]/[F] ratios (w/w) were computed for all the seven samples and the values were in the range of 13.79–328.57. By comparing these values with the average [P2O5]/[F] ratio in phosphate rock, it was inferred that 3–75% of fluoride originally present in rock remained in the fertilizers. IR spectral data revealed a small peak at 716?cm?1 – indicative of SiF62? – in the sample containing lowest fluoride which may be on account of fluoride stripping of intermediate phosphoric acid with reactive silica in this case. Considering 15 MMT (million metric tons) of annual consumption of phosphate fertilizers in India, the incremental load of fluoride in agricultural fields was estimated to be 127,650?±?14,550 MTy?1 based on the grand average fluoride content of 0.851?±?0.097% (w/w). While a part of this fluoride would likely get discharged into oceans through run-off, the remainder may persist in the soil, some amount may accumulate in vegetation, and a part might find its way into fresh water bodies, thereby aggravating the fluoride problem in the Country. The problem of non-point source pollution can be reduced by eliminating fluoride at source, and utilizing the recovered fluoride as feedstock. This could, in principle, satisfy the entire requirement of the fluorochemicals industry in India. Environmental costs need to be factored in while making an assessment of the viability of fluoride recovery and reuse in this manner compared to production from virgin sources of fluoride.

Graphical abstract