University of Oulu

Raghad Khaled, Shahd Elabed, Asmaa Masarani, Anfal Almulla, Shamsa Almheiri, Rinsha Koniyath, Lucy Semerjian, Khaled Abass, Human biomonitoring of environmental contaminants in Gulf Countries – current status and future directions, Environmental Research, Volume 236, Part 1, 2023, 116650, ISSN 0013-9351,

Human biomonitoring of environmental contaminants in Gulf Countries : current status and future directions

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Author: Khaled, Raghad1; Elabed, Shahd1; Masarani, Asmaa1;
Organizations: 1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
2Sharjah Institute for Medical Research (SIMR), University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
3Research Unit of Biomedicine and Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-11-06


Background: This systematic review aimed to evaluate the status of Human Biomonitoring (HBM) in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and provide recommendations for future research, considering the increased environmental contaminants that pose a threat to human health in this rapidly industrializing area.

Methods: A thorough search was performed in PubMed and Web of Science databases up to February 2023 to identify biomonitoring studies on human exposure and levels in the GCC region. Two independent reviewers assessed study eligibility, conducted data extraction and risk of bias assessment. The NIH Quality Assessment Tools and PRISMA guidelines were utilized for quality evaluation and reporting of results.

Results: A total of 38 eligible articles were included in this systematic review out of 662 articles screened. The majority of the publications were from Saudi Arabia (n = 24) and Kuwait (n = 10), while limited representation was found from Qatar (n = 3) and the UAE (n = 1). No articles were identified from Oman and Bahrain. The studies focused on metals, organohalogen compounds, pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and phthalates. The findings revealed elevated levels of metals and established correlations between metal exposure and adverse health effects, including infant neurodevelopmental issues, vitamin D deficiency, and oxidative stress. The presence of organohalogen compounds and pesticides was prevalent in the GCC region, with significant associations between exposure to these compounds and negative health outcomes. Notably, high levels of perchlorate were observed in the Kuwaiti population, and a study from Saudi Arabia found an association between per- and polyfluorinated substances and increased odds of osteoporosis.

Conclusions: This review emphasizes the need to address environmental health challenges in the GCC region through improved HBM research methods and strategies. Implementing biomonitoring programs, conducting cohort studies, investing in tools and expertise, promoting collaboration, and engaging the community are crucial for reliable HBM data in the GCC.

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Series: Environmental research
ISSN: 0013-9351
ISSN-E: 1096-0953
ISSN-L: 0013-9351
Volume: 236
Article number: 116650
DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.116650
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology
Funding: This work was supported by a seed grant (V.C.R.G./R. 447/2022) from the University of Sharjah.
Copyright information: © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (