Groundwater contamination in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries: a review

Sajjad Ahmad Siddiqi, Abdullah Al-Mamun*, Mahad Said Baawain, Ahmad Sana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Groundwater quality levels are currently deteriorating in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries due to excessive surface and subsurface human activities. Agricultural and industrial activities, landfill seepage and seawater intrusion have been attributed to the deterioration of groundwater quality in GCC states. Such a deterioration of groundwater quality could affect water security in the region, including human health and the ecosystem. Therefore, this review aims to identify the key causes of groundwater contamination across the GCC countries from the published literature. In addition, the review summarizes the major components of the groundwater contaminants across the GCC countries. The results have shown that heavy metals, several cations and anions are the leading cause of groundwater pollution. In most cases, the level of metals and ion contaminants exceeds both the local and international water quality standards. The results have observed the presence of high levels of coliform and radioactive elements in groundwater, especially Uranium and Radium, thereby posing additional risk to human health through consumption. Considering the scarcity of freshwater resources in GCC, urgent actions are required from the decision-makers and relevant regulatory bodies to set up and implement long-term mitigation strategies and stringent policies that will protect the groundwater resources from the adverse effects of anthropogenic activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21023-21044
Number of pages22
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Mar 14 2021


  • Groundwater pollution
  • Groundwater quality
  • Heavy metals
  • Radioactive elements, Policy frameworks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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