Author(s): Zhu C, Bai G, Liu X, Li Y
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Abstract The objectives of this study were to screen high-fluoride and high-arsenic drinking waters, to evaluate the effectiveness of fluoride-reducing projects and to assess the present condition of endemic fluorosis and arsenism in Shaanxi province in western China. For screening high-fluoride drinking waters, five water samples were collected from each selected village where dental fluorosis patients were detected in 8-12 year-old children. For evaluating the effectiveness of fluoride-reducing projects, four water samples were collected from each project at end-user level. Fluoride concentrations in water samples were measured by fluoride-selective electrode method or spectrophotometry. Dental fluorosis in children aging 8-12 years was examined according to Horowitz's Tooth Surface Index of Fluorosis. Skeletal fluorosis in adults was detected clinically and radiologically according to Chinese Criteria of Clinical Diagnosis of Skeletal Fluorosis. For screening high-arsenic waters, 20 water samples were collected from each village which was selected from areas characterized by the geographic features to induce high-arsenic underground water, i.e., alluvial plains, ore mining or smelting areas, geothermal artesians, and thermal springs. Arsenic concentrations in water samples were determined by spectrophotometry or arsine generation atomic fluorospectrophotometry. Arsenism in adults aging 40-89 years was examined in villages with arsenic concentrations in drinking water above 0.05 mg/l according to Chinese Criteria for Classification of Endemic Arsenism Areas and Clinical Diagnoses of Endemic Arsenism. The results showed that the fluoride level of 7144 water samples was 1.17 +/- 0.93 mg/l. There were 3396 (47.6\%) high-fluoride waters (fluoride level was above 1.0 mg/l) distributing in 786 (45.1\%) villages, where about 0.8 million (50.0\%) people inhabited. Additionally, the 1315 fluoride-reducing projects were studied. The fluoride level of the projects was 2.79 +/- 1.09 and 0.98 +/- 0.47 mg/l before and after building the projects, which remained at relatively lower level (1.03 +/- 0.47 mg/l). But there were still 58.0\% of the projects providing drinking waters with fluoride concentrations beyond 1.0mg/l. The rates of dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis were 38.2\% and 11.8\%, respectively. The arsenic level of 1732 water samples was 0.010 +/- 0.082 mg/l. There were 174 (14.9\%) high-arsenic waters (arsenic level was above 0.010 mg/l) being detected, distributing in 41 (38.7\%) villages. The arsenic level in 53 (4.5\%) water samples was beyond 0.025 mg/l. There were 3 villages with arsenic level in drinking water beyond Chinese National Permissible Limits (0.050 mg/l), and the prevalence rate of arsenism reached 37.0\% in these three villages, 3.7\%, 22.2\%, and 11.1\% of subjects suffering from mild, moderate, and severe arsenism, respectively. Conclusively, the wide distribution of high-fluoride drinking waters contributes to the prevalence of dental and skeletal fluorosis in Shaanxi province and the quality of fluoride-reducing projects should be further improved. Ore mining and smelting induces high-arsenic drinking waters, resulting in arsenism prevalence in Shang-luo city. Proper measures should be taken to deal with water pollution in the ore mining and smelting areas in order to solve the high-arsenic water problem in Shaanxi province.
This article was published in Water Res
and referenced in Journal of Chemical Engineering & Process Technology