Can Spectral Analysis Be Used to Monitor Fluoride in Drinking Water?

Fluoride is a common additive in drinking water around the world, but careful monitoring its concentration for safety and effectiveness is important. There are several methods commonly used for quantification of fluorine in drinking water: Fluoride Ion Selective Electrode (F-ISE) and spectral analysis. These methods are both effective, but we will explore how spectral analysis may provide a more simple method for fluorine quantification, as well as its uses for monitoring the safety and quality of various water sources around the world.

tap water spectral analysis
Fluoride is a common additive in our drinking water supply. Spectral analysis uses colorimetric technology to identify fluoride compounds in water samples and quantifies them both rapidly and effectively.
Image Source: Flickr user Steve A Johnson


The history of fluoride in drinking water

The use of fluoride as an additive in drinking water originated in the early 1900s. The move started out in response to the Colorado Brown Stain Epidemic, during which large numbers of the native-born population began showing signs of abnormal tooth stains. After many years of research, scientists were able to link this epidemic to the local water supply by utilizing early spectral technology for the determination of fluoride.

Studies also began to link the benefits of drinking water fluoridation to preventing tooth decay, and soon researchers turned their efforts towards using spectral analysis to monitor fluoride levels for safety. Once quantified levels of this element were established for safety and deemed acceptable for human consumption without adverse effects, the conversation regarding adding this element to our drinking water supply began. By the mid-1900’s, public drinking water supplies began using this additive as a part of a preventative dental care plan that swept the nation.  Fluoride soon became a common ingredient in a variety of dental care products and the adoption of new methods for fluoride determination, including F-ISE,  became available as quantification became a more precise science.

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toothpaste spectral analysis
Once the discovery of fluoride was linked to preventative dental health care, dental researchers began adding this element to a variety of dental care products.
Image Source: Flickr user Mauren Veras

Other applications of spectrophotometry in water safety

As the decades passed, many nations around the world adopted the use of fluoride in drinking water as part of a preventative dental care plan.  In other parts of the world, incidences of high levels of fluorine water contamination also prompted the need for advanced water assessment. Spectral analysis soon returned as a preferred method for quantifying fluoride in drinking water supplies around the globe. As this technology continued to advance, other applications for water quality and testing began to surface.  Not only could spectrophotometers measure fluorine levels in water samples, but other applications were found that utilize this technology for a variety of purposes such as monitoring water supplies and evaluating water quality and safety.

An affordable and effective method of determination

Spectral analysis has become a valuable tool for a variety of water quality testing and usages. The versatility and portability of spectrophotometric instrumentation have led to many new uses in water quality analysis and chemical science research. Spectral analysis has been adopted as an approved method of evaluation by the American Public Health Association (APHA) and is used to meet the standards and regulations of the many various industries that it represents. Both water quality and waste water analysis can be determined through spectral analysis and these applications are continuing to develop. As an affordable and rapid method of evaluation for fluorine in water as well as other contaminant, spectral technologies are now taking the spotlight in developing safe drinking water supplies around the world. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also recognized spectral analysis as an effective method for fluoride determination and much more.

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rainbow water spectral analysis
Spectral analysis has many uses and application in testing water quality and safety. Using color measurement technology, spectrophotometers can identify and accurately quantify the various elements in water samples.
Image Source: Flickr user James Niland

There are many various types of spectral analysis instrumentation available, and at HunterLab we offer a variety tools for measuring water quality and safety. Whether you are looking for fluoride quantification or waste water analysis, there are many spectrophotometric options available to meet your needs. As spectral analysis technology continues to grow and develop, HunterLab continues to make changes in response to the growing needs of these applications. For more information on spectrophotometry and water quality evaluation, please contact HunterLab today.

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