Fluoride in groundwater, Varaha River Basin, Visakhapatnam District, Andhra Pradesh, India
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Excess intake of fluoride through drinking water causes fluorosis on human beings in many States of the country (India), including Andhra Pradesh. Groundwater quality in the Varaha River Basin located in the Visakhapatnam District of Andhra Pradesh has been studied, with reference to fluoride content, for its possible sources for implementing appropriate management measures, according to the controlling mechanism of fluoride concentration in the groundwater. The area occupied by the river basin is underlain by the Precambrian Eastern Ghats, over which the Recent sediments occur. Results of the chemical data of the groundwater suggest that the considerable number of groundwater samples show fluoride content greater than that of the safe limit prescribed for drinking purpose. Statistical analysis shows that the fluoride has a good positive relation, with pH and bicarbonate. This indicates an alkaline environment, as a dominant controlling mechanism for leaching of fluoride from the source material. Other supplementary factors responsible for the occurrence of fluoride in the groundwater are evapotranspiration, long contact time of water with the aquifer material, and agricultural fertilizers. A lack of correlation between fluoride and chloride, and a high positive correlation between fluoride and bicarbonate indicate recharge of the aquifer by the river water. However, the higher concentration of fluoride observed in the groundwater in some locations indicates insufficient dilution by the river water. That means the natural dilution did not perform more effectively. Hence, the study emphasizes the need for surface water management structures, with people’s participation, for getting more effective results.