Exposure and Health

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 95–107 | Cite as

Occurrence and Health Implication of Fluoride in Groundwater of Loess Aquifer in the Chinese Loess Plateau: A Case Study of Tongchuan, Northwest China

  • Peiyue LiEmail author
  • Xiaodong He
  • Yi Li
  • Gang Xiang
S.I. : Drinking Water Quality and Public Health


This study was carried out to delineate the occurrence and spatial distribution of groundwater fluoride in a loess area of China and to determine the geochemical and anthropogenic factors that influence its concentration. Water quality was assessed for drinking purpose by comparing with the national and WHO drinking water guidelines, and the impacts of fluoride on human health were also quantified using the health risk assessment model recommended by the USEPA. The results demonstrate that groundwater in the study area is slightly alkaline in nature, and its quality is generally good except slightly excessive TDS, TH, Na+, F, and nitrate at some local locations. High-fluoride groundwater is mainly distributed in the southeast part of the study area, which is in accordance with the groundwater flow direction in this area. Groundwater fluoride is mainly of natural origin and is dominantly controlled by natural factors such as pH, specific hydrochemical environment, ion exchange, and saturation state of minerals. Fluoride contributes the most to the total health risk in the present study. Children are at higher health risk than adults in this area. Establishing central water supply system and rainwater harvesting system are suggested to guarantee safe drinking water supply in this area.


Fluoride occurrence Health risk assessment Water quality assessment Groundwater environment Loess Plateau 



The following funding sources supported this research: the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41502234, 41761144059 and 41602238), the Special Fund for Basic Scientific Research of Central Universities (310829153509 and 300102298301), the Research Funds for Young Stars in Science and Technology of Shaanxi Province (2016KJXX-29), the Fok Ying Tong Education Foundation (161098), the General Financial Grant from the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2015M580804), the Special Financial Grant from the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016T090878), the Special Financial Grant from the Shaanxi Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2015BSHTDZZ09), and the Innovation Training Program for Undergraduate Students of Chang’an University (201610710073, 201710710099 and 201710710100). The editor and reviewers are sincerely acknowledged for their instructive and detailed comments on the early versions of the manuscript. We are also in debt to the master students Xinsheng Lyu and Hui Tang who have helped us a lot in field investigation and sample collection. Without their voluntary help, the publication of our research will be greatly delayed.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringChang’an UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Subsurface Hydrology and Ecological Effects in Arid Region of the Ministry of EducationChang’an UniversityXi’anChina
  3. 3.104 Geological BranchGuizhou Bureau of Geology and Mineral Exploration and DevelopmentDuyunChina

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