UAE: Radioactivity levels in groundwater

Researchers from the UAE University’s geology department in Al Ain have announced the initial results of a unique study into radioactivity levels in the UAE’s groundwater. Most radioactive isotopes are present at below recommended levels.

The project, started in 2012 and initially covering the eastern and northern areas, first measured concentrations of radioactive isotopes such as radon-222 and radium-226. Groundwater samples were taken from 100 wells in areas where water is often used for agriculture. Ala Aldahan, a professor of geoscience at UAEU, says the work is important for two reasons.

“The first is to form baseline data on groundwater, which is missing in the Emirates and most of the Gulf, and to find if there’s any environmental impact in different parts of the Emirates,” Prof Aldahan says. “We did find some areas have high radioactivity, such as Jebel Hafeet and Al Ain.” Prof Aldahan says the groundwater in this area, which is not used for drinking, shows elevated levels of radon, but this is naturally occurring. He says radioactivity as the result of human activity has been detected at “a very low level” and does not pose a hazard.

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