Risk Assessment of Chinese Resident’s Exposure to Fluoride

Zhang LE, Huang D, Yang J, Wei X, Qin J, Ou S, Zhang Z, Zou Y. Probabilistic risk assessment of Chinese residents’ exposure to fluoride in improved drinking water in endemic fluorosis areas. Environmental pollution 2017 Mar;222:118-125. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.12.074.

Studies have yet to evaluate the effects of water improvement on fluoride concentrations in drinking water and the corresponding health risks to Chinese residents in endemic fluorosis areas (EFAs) at a national level. This paper summarized available data in the published literature (2008-2016) on water fluoride from the EFAs in China before and after water quality was improved. Based on these obtained data, health risk assessment of Chinese residents’ exposure to fluoride in improved drinking water was performed by means of a probabilistic approach. The uncertainties in the risk estimates were quantified using Monte Carlo simulation and sensitivity analysis. Our results showed that in general, the average fluoride levels (0.10-2.24 mg/L) in the improved drinking water in the EFAs of China were lower than the pre-intervention levels (0.30-15.24 mg/L). The highest fluoride levels were detected in North and Southwest China. The mean non-carcinogenic risks associated with consumption of the improved drinking water for Chinese residents were mostly accepted (hazard quotient < 1), but the non-carcinogenic risk of children in most of the EFAs at the 95th percentile exceeded the safe level of 1, indicating the potential non-cancer-causing health effects on this fluoride-exposed population. Sensitivity analyses indicated that fluoride concentration in drinking water, ingestion rate of water, and the exposure time in the shower were the most relevant variables in the model, therefore, efforts should focus mainly on the definition of their probability distributions for a more accurate risk assessment.

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