Friday, 26 January 2007

A Health Risk Assessment for Fluoride in Central Europe by F. M. Fordyce , K. Vrana , E. Zhovinsky , V. Povoroznuk , G. Toth , B. C. Hope, U. Iljinsky, J. Baker

Like many elements, fluorine (which generally occurs in nature as fluoride) is beneficial  to human health in trace amounts, but can be toxic in excess. The links between low intakes of  fluoride and dental protection are well known; however, fluoride is a powerful calcium-seeking element and can interfere with the calcified  structure of bones and teeth in the human body at higher concentrations causing dental or skeletal fluorosis. One of the main exposure routes is via drinking water and the World Health Organisation currently sets water quality guidelines for the element. In Central Europe, groundwater resources that exceed the guideline value of 1.5 mg l–1 are widespread and effects on health of high fluoride in water have been reported. The aim of the current project was to develop a geographic information system (GIS) to aid the identification of areas where high-fluoride waters and fluorosis may be a problem; hence, where water treatment  technologies should be targeted. The development of the GIS was based upon the collation and digitisation of existing information relevant to fluoride risk in Ukraine, Moldova, Hungary and Slovakia assembled for the first time in a readily accessible form. In addition, geo- chemistry and health studies to examine in more detail the relationships between high-fluoride drinking waters and health effects in the population were carried out in Moldova and Ukraine demonstrating dental fluorosis prevalence rates of 60–90% in adolescents consuming water containing 2–7 mg l–1 fluoride.

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