Fluoride in surface water and groundwater in southeast Sweden sources, controls and risk aspects

University dissertation from Växjö : Linnaeus University Press

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to determine the sources, controls and risk aspects of fluoride in surface water and groundwater in a region of southeastern Sweden where the fluorine-rich 1.45 Ga circular Götemar granite (5 km in diameter) crops out in the surrounding 1.8 Ga granites and quartz monzodiorites (TIB rocks). The materials of this thesis include both primary data, collected for the purpose of this thesis, and a large set of secondary data, retrieved from the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co., the Swedish Geological Survey and the Kalmar County Council. A characteristic feature of the area is high fluoride concentrations in all kinds of natural waters, including surface waters (such as streams) and groundwater in both the Quaternary deposits (regolith groundwater) and bedrock fractures (fracture groundwater). A number of potential sources and controls of the high fluoride concentrations were investigated, including a variety of geological, mineralogical, mineral-chemical and hydrological features and processes. For the stream waters and regolith groundwater, high fluoride concentrations were correlated with the location of the Götemar granite. This finding is explained by the discharge of fluoride-rich groundwater from fractures in the bedrock and/or the release of fluoride due to the weathering of fluorine-bearing minerals in the Quaternary deposits; however, the Quaternary deposits had considerably lower fluoride concentrations than the underlying bedrock. The high fluoride concentrations in the fresh fracture groundwater (up to 7.4 mg/L) in the TIB-rocks are proposed to be the result of long residence times and the alteration/dissolution of fluorine-bearing primary and secondary minerals along the fracture walls. In terms of risk aspects, this thesis shows that fluoride can add to the transport and inorganic complexation of aluminium in humic-rich, acidic streams. Additionally, 24 % of the children in households with private wells in Kalmar County were assessed to be at risk of excess fluoride intake based on the WHO drinking water guideline value (1.5 mg/L). However, the risk increased significantly when instead the US EPA reference dose (0.06 mg/kg-day) was used, both when all relevant exposure pathways were taken into account as well as water consumption alone. Hence, it is shown that the risk of an excess intake of fluoride is strongly dependent on the basis for evaluation.

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