Identifying groundwater fluoride source in a weathered basement aquifer in central Malawi : human health and policy implications

Addison, Marc J. and Rivett, Michael O. and Phiri, Peaches and Mleta, Prince and Mblame, Emma and Banda, Modesta and Phiri, Oliver and Lakudzala, Wilson and Kalin, Robert M. (2020) Identifying groundwater fluoride source in a weathered basement aquifer in central Malawi : human health and policy implications. Applied Sciences, 10 (14). 5006. ISSN 2076-3417

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    Abstract

    Consumption of groundwater containing fluoride exceeding World Health Organization (WHO) 1.5 mg/L standard leaves people vulnerable to fluorosis: a vulnerability not well characterised in Malawi. To evaluate geogenic fluoride source and concentration, groundwater fluoride and geology was documented in central Malawi where groundwater supplies are mainly sourced from the weathered basement aquifer. Lithological composition was shown as the main control on fluoride occurrence. Augen gneiss of granitic composition posed the greatest geological fluoride risk. The weathered basement aquifer profile was the main factor controlling fluoride distributions. These results and fluoride-lithology statistical analysis allowed the development of a graded map of geological fluoride risk. A direct link to human health risk (dental fluorosis) from geological fluoride was quantified to support science-led policy change for fluoride in rural drinking water in Malawi. Hazard quotient (HQ) values were calculated and assigned to specific water points, depending on user age group; in this case, 74% of children under six were shown to be vulnerable to dental fluorosis. Results are contrary to current standard for fluoride in Malawi groundwater of 6 mg/L, highlighting the need for policy change. Detailed policy recommendations are presented based on the results of this study

    ORCID iDs

    Addison, Marc J., Rivett, Michael O. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4626-7985, Phiri, Peaches, Mleta, Prince, Mblame, Emma, Banda, Modesta, Phiri, Oliver, Lakudzala, Wilson and Kalin, Robert M.;