Researchers from Qatar, Europe, Asia, and North America gathered in Doha to discuss the impact of desalinated water on public health at a workshop organised by Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (Qeeri).
The two-day workshop produced valuable insight on the safety of desalinated drinking water, which will help guide public policy in Qatar and around the world.
The event, entitled “Quality of Desalinated Water from Human Health Perspectives,”was sponsored by Qeeri, Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), and the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. It featured a range of speeches, presentations, and panel discussions. In the sessions, attendees were given a multidisciplinary look at how desalination can be an effective means of producing drinkable water.
Ensuring the safety of desalinated water is increasingly vital as freshwater resources diminish and populations grow. HBKU’s research excellence and unique partnerships advance understanding of this important topic to help those who rely on desalinated water to live healthy, prosperous lives.
A diverse group of academics presented their original research at the workshop, including Prof Basem Shomar of Qeeri, an expert on chemistry of desalination technology, who surveyed the chemical composition of desalinated water and the public’s perception of its safety.
World Health Organisation researcher professor John Fawell also spoke about safeguarding the complex systems that deliver desalinated water to people in countries where freshwater is scarce. Professor Nriagu of the University of Michigan expressed concern for the low mineral content of desalinated water in many countries and wondered whether such demineralised water can be a risk factor for chronic diseases.
Dr Basem Shomar said: “When we explore the topic of desalinated water, it is important that we not only think about the quantity but also consider what is clean and safe. The topics discussed at this workshop form an important element of the overall mission of Qeeri and reflect the multidisciplinary range of the work undertaken at the institute.”
Another presentation talked about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan through the lens of Safe Drinking Water Act in the US. Referencing Flint, professor Chuanwu Xi of the University of Michigan demonstrated the importance of sound policy measures to prevent public health disasters.
Researchers affiliated with the National University of Singapore, University of Cologne, Qinghai University, and Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar also contributed to the workshop.
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