The most appropriate and widely used source of drinking water for the rural populations of South Africa is groundwater. Pilot studies and surveys conducted by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DW AF) indicated that there are a number of boreholes across the country that contain apart from fluoride, levels of nitrate, some heavy metals, total dissolved solids, sulphates and faecal coliform (in isolated regions) that could pose a health risk if the water is used for drinking purposes. Very few boreholes have been tested for heavy metals or toxic organic substances. However considering the levels of fluoride, in general, groundwater is of acceptable quality except for some provinces in which elevated levels of natural groundwater fluoride occurs. Very high levels of fluoride, >4 mg/l occur in some groundwater sources in all nine provinces of South Africa, especially in the Limpopo, North-West, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal provinces. A superficial inspection reveals that most of the local people in those areas suffer from dental fluorosis at varying degrees. The main aim of this study is to determine the distribution of the fluoride ion concentration levels in South African groundwater and the impacts thereof on dental health. The available data is used to assess the distribution of the various fluoride ion concentration levels in some national groundwater sources. Areas of particularly high or low fluoride levels are identified. Results from an epidemiological survey carried out by the National Department of Health (NDOH) are used concurrently with the fluoride data to determine the percentage morbidity of dental fluorosis in each area The results are compared in order to determine if any relationship exists between the occurrence of fluoride in drinking water and the incidences of dental fluorosis. Vegter's lithostratigraphy and the simplified geology of South Africa are used to interpret the results and assess the role of surface geology in the release and distribution of fluorides in groundwater. The role of other factors such as climate and the interactions of the fluoride ion and other water quality parameters in aqueous media are also assessed.
Dissertation (MSc (Water Utilization))--University of Pretoria, 2006.