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New device simplifies measurement of fluoride contamination in water

Adding fluoride to water is common practice in a number of countries, including the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Malaysia, India and Vietnam. In low concentrations (below 1.5 mg/L), it can prevent tooth decay and even strengthen bones, but levels above that can have the opposite effect, causing serious dental and bone disease, especially in children and developing fetuses.  To keep things in check, the WHO has set 1.5 mg/L as the maximum limit for fluoride 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 one to 1.5 ppm is good for teeth, but in many countries, the water sources have concentrations above 2 ppm, which can cause serious health issues."  Led by Stylianou, a team of scientists has 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. It is portable, considerably cheaper than current methods, and can be used on-site by virtually anyone.  Read more...



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