Fluorides (as total F)

F-tot, Fluorider, som F


Fluorides (as total F)

CAS no


Molecular formula


 Fluorides are a group of substances including for example hydrogen fluoride, calcium fluoride, sodium fluoride, sulphur hexafluoride and silicon fluorides. Hydrogen fluoride is a colourless liquid or gas with a pungent odour that dissolves easily in water and in organic solvent. It is very corrosive and toxic. Calcium fluoride and sodium fluoride are solid substances and sulphur hexafluoride is a gas with no colour or odour.1, 2


Fluorides are used in the industry, for example in the metal industry, for processing and use of phosphate ore, in glass and ceramics production and production of adhesives. Fluorides may also be used in pesticides and in some countries, fluoride is added to the drinking water to prevent tooth decay.
3 This is however not allowed in Sweden. Fluorides are also added to some food, toothpaste and other dental care products.4

Sources and transportation pathways

Fluorides are naturally present in certain minerals, such as fluorite, cryolite and apatite.
5, 6 Fluorides are emitted naturally, for example when minerals containing fluorides are dissolved, during volcanic eruptions and through marine aerosols. Anthropogenic emissions of fluorides include burning of coal that contains fluorine and from industrial waste streams, in particular in the metal and chemical industries.7, 8

Fluorides are present in the atmosphere in gas phase or bound to particles. They end up in soil or water through deposition or go through chemical reaction. Sulphur hexafluoride, however, is a stable molecule that can persist in the atmosphere for several thousand years. Fluorides often form aluminium complexes in water and soil. Soluble fluorides are stored in some plants and animals, but it is not known whether they are biomagnified up the food chain.9

on environment and health

Emissions of fluorides to water can have an adverse effect on aquatic organisms and emissions to air may harm plants. Animals can obtain dental fluorosis (discoloured patches on the enamel), and other fluorine-related damages.

Sulphur hexafluoride is a greenhouse gas that contributes to the increased greenhouse gas effect11, 12. The increased greenhouse gas effect results in an increase of the average temperature on earth, which for example leads to climate change and rising of the sea level.13, 14

Fluorine has positive effects on dental health at low levels, as it prevents tooth decay. However, at high levels it may cause fluorosis, which exhibits as white patches on the teeth. Exposure to high fluoride levels for longer periods of time may cause pain and stiffness of the joints, osteofluorosis. There are also some indications that high fluorine intake can affect the development of the nervous system.15 Hydrogen fluoride is toxic and corrosive by inhalation or skin contact.16

Humans are exposed to fluorides primarily through food and drinking water. Practically all food contains a small amount of fluorides, with fish and tea containing higher fluoride levels. Fluorides are also present in drinking water from wells, in particular water from bedrock wells where the bedrock is rich in fluorite.17, 18, 19

International agreements and regulations

Fluorides are regulated by the EU Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC) and the EU regulation on Cosmetic products (EC 1223/2009). The UN Protocol on PRTRs and the EU E-PRTR regulation regulate how data on fluoride emissions is made available.



1 http://www.inchem.org/
2 https://rib.msb.se/Portal/Template/Pages/Kemi/Kemsearch.aspx
3 http://www.inchem.org/
4 https://ki.se/imm/fluorid
5 https://ki.se/imm/fluorid
6 https://www.livsmedelsverket.se/livsmedel-och-innehall/oonskade-amnen/fluorid
7 http://www.inchem.org/
8 http://prtr.ec.europa.eu/
9 http://www.inchem.org/
10 http://www.inchem.org/
11 http://www.ghgprotocol.org/sites/default/files/ghgp/Global-Warming-Potential-Values%20%28Feb%2016%202016%29_1.pdf
12 http://www.naturvardsverket.se/Sa-mar-miljon/Klimat-och-luft/Klimat/Darfor-blir-det-varmare/Andra-vaxthusgaser/
13 http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf
14 http://www.smhi.se/kunskapsbanken/klimat/vaxthuseffekten-1.3844
15 https://ki.se/imm/fluorid
16 https://rib.msb.se/Portal/Template/Pages/Kemi/Kemsearch.aspx
17 http://www.inchem.org/
18 https://ki.se/imm/fluorid
19 https://www.livsmedelsverket.se/livsmedel-och-innehall/oonskade-amnen/fluorid