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Distribution of fluoride and fluorosis in Ethiopia and prospects for control

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Abstract:

Summary

A review and mapping of fluoride test data for 270 water sources in 126 communities and examination of the literature of fluorosis distribution in Ethiopia show that this health problem extends beyond the Rift Valley into some highland communities. Fluoride concentrations above 5.0 mg/l in the Rift Valley were found mostly in hot springs (100% of all sources), lakes (78%), shallow wells (54%) and boreholes (35%) and the lowest concentrations (below 1.5 mg/l) in springs and rivers. Analysis of hydrochemical, economic and demographic factors in the spatial distribution of high-fluoride domestic water sources indicates that the fluorosis problem has become more serious in the Rift Valley in recent decades. Considerable spatial variation in the occurrence of fluoride, even within the same communities, and the presence of some low-fluoride water sources in the Rift Valley offer possibilities for geochemical exploration for acceptable domestic sources. The defluoridation programme in the Wonji irrigation scheme illustrates the problems faced by a large rural community in a developing country. Possibilities for control are examined and recommendations made for the development of alternative water sources and promising defluoridation methods using locally available materials and technologies.

Keywords: Ethiopia; alternative water sources; defluoridation; environment; fluoride distribution; fluorosis; prevention

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-3156.1999.00405.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, San Francisco, USA 2: Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Publication date: May 1, 1999

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