A critical review of environmental and public health impacts from the activities of evaporation ponds

Patrick Amoatey, Azizallah Izady, Ali Al-Maktoumi, Mingjie Chen, Issa Al-Harthy, Khalifa Al-Jabri, Titus A M Msagati, Thabo T I Nkambule, Mahad Said Baawain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Evaporation ponds (EVPs) are among the most cost-effective, and simple wastewater treatment technologies used in many regions/countries with high solar radiation levels. However, its operational limitations, which include the overflow of wastewater, leakages via liners, and large surface area of the EVP that is exposed to atmosphere, creates a negative feedback to the environment. Therefore, the main aim of this review study of more than a hundred works published a little all over the continents is to provide a summary of various contaminations that are associated with EVPs activities through different environmental compartments. In addition, the impacts of EVP on fauna, human health including the current on-site sustainable mitigation strategies were also reviewed. The first conclusion from this study shows that the most commonly contaminants released into surface waters, groundwater, soil and sediments were heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, selenium, including several major anions and cations. Non–methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matters (PMs) were the main air pollutants emitted from the surfaces of an EVP. Limited data is available about the emissions of atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHGs) especially carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) from EVP surfaces. Migratory birds and aquatic organisms are the most vulnerable fauna as EVP wastewaters can cause obstruction of movements, affect diversity, and causes mortalities following the exposure to the toxic wastewater. The study revealed limited data about the potential health risk associated with occupational and environmental exposure to radiological hazards and contaminated drinking water from EVP activities. On-site EVP treatment strategies using bioremediation and electrochemical treatment technologies have shown to be a promising sustainable mitigation approach. Knowledge gaps in areas of GHGs monitoring/modeling, pollution exposure estimation and health risk assessments are urgently required to gain deeper understanding about the impact of EVP activities, and incorporate them into future EVP designs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number149065
Pages (from-to)149065
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Evaporation pond
  • Health effects
  • Mitigation
  • Pollution
  • Produced wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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