Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 83–102 | Cite as

A health risk assessment for fluoride in Central Europe

  • F. M. Fordyce
  • K. Vrana
  • E. Zhovinsky
  • V. Povoroznuk
  • G. Toth
  • B. C. Hope
  • U. Iljinsky
  • J. Baker
Original Paper


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, geochemistry 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.


Dental fluorosis Fluoride GIS Hungary Moldova Slovakia Risk assessment Ukraine Water 



This work was carried out as part of the European Union INCO-COPERNICUS IC15-CT98-0139 “Water Quality Improvement Through Fluoride Reduction in Groundwater of Central Europe” Project, DGXII. The authors gratefully acknowledge permission to use data for this study from the Geological Survey of Slovakia (SGUDS); the Geological Survey of Hungary (MAFI); the Association of State Geologists of Moldova (ASG); the Institute of Geochemistry and Ore Mineral Formation, Ukraine (IGMOF) and the Institute of Gerontology, Ukraine (IGAMS). Dr Chris Johnson and Prof Barry Smith of the British Geological Survey are thanked for their comments on the text. This paper is published with the permission of the Director of the British Geological Survey.


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Copyright information

© British geological survey, national environment research Council 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. M. Fordyce
    • 1
  • K. Vrana
    • 2
  • E. Zhovinsky
    • 3
  • V. Povoroznuk
    • 4
  • G. Toth
    • 5
  • B. C. Hope
    • 1
  • U. Iljinsky
    • 6
  • J. Baker
    • 7
  1. 1.British Geological SurveyEdinburghUK
  2. 2.HYDEKO-KVBratislavaSlovakia
  3. 3.Institute of Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Ore Formation, National Academy of Sciences of UkraineKiev 142Ukraine
  4. 4.Institute of Gerontology AMS UkraineKievUkraine
  5. 5.Niobium BTBudapestHungary
  6. 6.Association of State Geologists, MoldovaChisinauMoldova
  7. 7.Selor eeigAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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