Fluoride is a beneficial trace element for human health as its deficiency and excess levels can cause detrimental health effects. In Sri Lanka, dry zone regions can have excessive levels of fluoride in drinking water and can cause dental and skeletal fluorosis. In addition to drinking water, traditional habits of tea consumption can cause an additional intake of fluoride in the population. A total number of 39 locally blended black tea samples were collected from a village where chronic kidney disease with undetermined origin (CKDu) is prevalent. In addition, unblended tea samples were obtained from tea-producing factories. The fluoride contents in infusions of 2% weight per volume (w/v) were measured using calibrated ion-selective fluoride electrodes. The mean fluoride content was 2.68±1.03 mg/L in loose tea, 1.87±0.57mg/L in packed tea samples, and 1.14±0.55 mg/L in unblended tea. Repeated brewing of the same tea leaves showed that over 50% of fluoride leached into the solution in the first infusion. An estimate of the daily total average fluoride intake via tea consumption per person is 2.68 mg per day. With groundwater in many dry zone regions in Sri Lanka showing high fluoride levels that exceed 0.5 mg/L, the additional daily intake can rapidly exceed recommended thresholds of 2 mg/day. This can add to adverse health impacts that might also relate to CKDu.
Keywords: CKDu; Dental fluorosis; Dry zone; Fluoride in tea leaves; Repeated infusion; Tea infusion.
*Original abstract online with references at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12011-021-02694-2