Recognition of the anthropogenic contribution to the input of fluoride in urban recharge

  • N. Colombani
  • S. Kebede
  • E. Salemi
  • M. MastrociccoEmail author
Original Article


Fluoride is a common inorganic contaminant of geogenic origin around the world. Anthropogenic sources of fluoride could also contribute to increased fluoride concentrations in groundwater, although they have not been well-documented. This paper presents soil batches and unsaturated column experiments on fluoride-enriched recharge water percolating from a urine-polluted soil in an area where fluorosis is endemic. Results from the polluted soil collected near a main street in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) are compared with an unpolluted soil collected in a garden inside the university campus, located 50 m from the polluted one. Soils were sampled at the end of the dry season and after the first intense rainfall at the beginning of the wet season. The objectives of the study were to evaluate the anthropogenic fluoride enrichment in urban recharge due to unmanaged human excretions along the streets and model recharge water fluxes and solutes leaching to evaluate the reactivity of dissolved species. Batch experiments found extremely high fluoride (42.1 ± 5.2 mg/kg) and urea (89.5 ± 8.1 mg/kg) concentrations in polluted soil before the rainy season. The fluoride concentration in the polluted soil was more than one order of magnitude higher than that recorded in the uncontaminated soil. This study proved that in areas where the population is subject to a large fluoride daily intake, recharge waters extremely enriched in fluoride can be leached from urine-contaminated soils in urban environments. The proposed methodology could be applied for a first screening for the anthropogenic sources of fluoride in urban recharge.


Urban recharge Contamination Urine Soil Fluoride Leaching 



Three anonymous reviewers and the Editor are acknowledged for their constructive criticisms, which helped to substantially improve this manuscript. Dagmawi Shiferaw and Adane Abebe from the School of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa University are gratefully thanked for helping with the experiments. This work has been supported by the Italian Contribution to the Education Sector Development Programme—Post Graduate Programme Project (PGP/AAU/RFP/02-02/2012).

Supplementary material

12665_2018_7632_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences and BiotechnologyUniversity of FerraraFerraraItaly
  2. 2.School of Earth SciencesAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  3. 3.Department of Physics and Earth SciencesUniversity of FerraraFerraraItaly
  4. 4.Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and TechnologiesUniversity of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”CasertaItaly

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