The main aim of this study was to determine the content of fluoride in drinking water from sources within the sampling areas for the National Oral Health Survey (NOHS) 2011 from the Central, Northern, Western and Eastern Divisions in the Fiji Islands.Method:
Drinking water samples were collected from taps, a waterfall, wells, creeks, streams, springs, rivers, boreholes and rain water tanks in a diverse range of rural and urban areas across the Fiji Islands. A total of 223 areas were sampled between December 2014 and June 2015. Samples were analysed for fluoride using a colorimetric assay with the Zirconyl-SPADNS Reagent. The samples were pre-treated with sodium arsenite solution prior to analysis to eliminate interference from chlorine.Results:
Measured fluoride concentrations ranged from 0.01 to 0.35 ppm, with a mean concentration across all samples of 0.03 + 0.04 ppm. No samples achieved the optimal level for caries prevention (0.7 ppm). The Western Division had the highest fluoride levels compared to the other Divisions. The highest single fluoride concentration was found in Valase. The drinking water for this rural area located in the Western Division is from a borehole. The lowest concentrations of fluoride were in reticulated water samples from rural areas in the Central Division, which were consistently less than those recorded in the Northern, Eastern and Western Divisions.Conclusion:
All samples had fluoride concentrations below the optimum level required to prevent dental caries.Implications for public health:
This research forms part of the objectives of the 2011 National Oral Health Survey in Fiji. At present, Fiji lacks water fluoridation and therefore a baseline of the fluoride content in drinking water supplies is essential before water fluoridation is implemented. The results from this study would be beneficial in designing caries-preventive strategies through water fluoridation and for comparing those strategies with caries prevalence overtime.