Studies on geological background and source of fluorine in drinking water in the North China Plate fluorosis areas

K. Luo, F. Feng, H. Li, Chen-Lin Chou, Z. Feng, D. Yunshe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Endemic fluorosis in northern China is usually produced by high fluorine (F) content in drinking water. Thirty-one samples of drinking waters, mainly well waters and nearly 200 samples of rocks, loess, and coal were analyzed for F content using the combustion hydrolysis-fluoride-ion selective electrode (ISE) method. The geologic cross sections of two well-known fluorosis basins were studied. The solubility of F in different rock types collected from fluorosis areas was determined. Results showed that areas of endemic fluorosis in northern China are located in coal-bearing basins which are comprised of three stratagraphic portions. The lowest portion is Precambrian granitic rocks or Cambrian-Ordovician carbonates. The middle portion consists of Permo-Carboniferous or Jurassic coal-bearing sequences. The upper portion is 0-400 m Pleistocene loess. Flourine content in the Precambrian granite-gneiss contained (a) 1090-1460 ppm, in the Cambrian-Ordovician limestone and dolomite, (b) 52-133 ppm, in black shales and coal gob of Permo-Carboniferous coal-bearing strata, (c) 200-700 ppm, and (d) Pleistocene loess 454-542 ppm. The solubility of F in black shales of coal-bearing sequences was higher than in Precambrian granitic rocks, and both were more soluble than loess. F solubility from Precambrian granitic rocks was moderate, but Precambrian granitic rocks have high F content and thus contribute an appreciable amount of ion to the shallow groundwater (well water). Varying F content in shallow groundwater is controlled by geological conditions. The sources of F in the shallow groundwater from fluorosis areas in northern China are mainly derived from black shales of coal-bearing sequences and Precambrian granitic basement in the basins of northern China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-246
Number of pages10
JournalToxicological and Environmental Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • ISGS
  • Granitic rocks
  • Fluorosis
  • Black shales
  • Fluorine in drinking waters
  • Northern China
  • Coal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Chemistry


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