Everything in excess is opposed to nature – Hippocrates
Fluorinated water has its own benefits as many countries follow this practice including the United States, Australia, India
Seeking to address fluoride contamination in drinking water, chemical engineers at EPFL have developed a portable and user-friendly device that can measure fluoride concentration accurately and reliably.
It is said that fluoride in low concentrations which is below 1.5 mg/L can help in preventing tooth decay and strengthen bones which is essential for children in their early age. But, going beyond the suggested value can have serious effects on children. (It is observed that children are at the high risk of getting affected due to fluorine if not dealt in a proper way.)
To bring things under control, the WHO has set 1.5 mg/L as the maximum Fluoride limit allowed in drinking water.
“To determine whether drinking water is safe we need to detect fluoride in water at the level of parts-per-million (ppm),” says Kyriakos Stylianou at the Laboratory of molecular simulation at EPFL Valais Wallis. “Around 1-1.5 ppm is good for teeth, but in many countries the water sources have concentrations above 2 ppm can cause serious health issues.”
Though measuring tools are available for fluoride contamination, the equipment is quite expensive to afford which is the reason why several countries are finding it difficult to address the issue.
“Led by Stylianou, a team of scientists have now built a device that can accurately measure fluoride concentrations using only a few drops of water – even with low-level contamination – resulting in a simple change in color brightness. Published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), the device is named SION-105, is portable, considerably cheaper than current methods, and can be used on-site by virtually anyone.”
It is said that SION-105 is luminescent by default but darkens when it encounters fluoride ions. “Add a few droplets of water and by monitoring the color change of the MOF one can say whether it is safe to drink the water or not,” explains Mish Ebrahim, the paper’s first author. “This can now be done on-site, without any chemical expertise.”
After the device is built, the researches have gone to test the accuracy level by collecting water samples from United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and few other countries. The data corresponded very well when compared to measurements made using ion chromatography, a standard method for measuring fluoride concentration in water.
“This comparison showcases the performance and reliability of SION-105, which, coupled with the portability and ease-of-use of the device, make it a very user-friendly solution for water sampling in remote areas where frequent fluoride concentration monitoring is paramount,” says Stylianou.
It will be interesting to see if governments come forward to utilize the technology that is available in the market to prevent any such occurrence of fluoride contamination which has become a major concern for several countries across the world.