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Chapter 12 Addressing Groundwater Fluoride Contamination Using Inexpensively Processed Bauxite


Globally, 200 million people are at risk of adverse health effects from drinking groundwater contaminated with high fluoride concentrations that exceed the World Health Organization's maximum contaminant limit (WHO MCL=1.5ppmF-). Although many defluoridation technologies have been demonstrated to work in lab, most have proven inappropriate for impoverished rural regions of developing countries because they are cost-prohibitive, require skilled labor, or are difficult to scale. The authors submit evidence for the use of bauxite, an aluminum-rich ore, as a potentially inexpensive, effective, and scalable defluoridation technology. Specifically, we present results from experimental studies that characterize globally diverse bauxite ores, elucidate fluoride removal mechanisms, and establish proof of concept that mildly processed bauxite can cost-effectively remediate field-relevant fluoride concentrations in synthetic and real groundwater matrices at field-relevant kinetics. We discuss practical implications of these research findings and highlight remaining challenges and unknowns that need to be further studied before implementing the proposed defluoridation process in the field.

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