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Environment and health
The toxicity level of the groundwater of the semi-arid tract of Bahrain was examined for the fluoride concentration and other chemical constituents such as the sodium absorption ratio (SAR), chloride, sulfate, bicarbonate, and boron. The fluoride concentration varied from 0.50 to 1.46 mg/litre and 38 percent of the water contained concentrations of fluoride deemed harmful for drinking. However, the fluoride concentration in the water is not harmful for most crops. Spring and well water have rather high salinity but could be used for agricultural purposes, particularly for crops that can tolerate high salinity levels (Akther, 1998).
While the standard of living and quality of life of the people has improved in the last 20 years, these improvements have produced negative effects on the terrestrial, coastal and marine environments due to overexploitation of these ecosystems and to unsustainable development practices. Also as a consequence of two Gulf wars and unstructured economic diversification, the country has been subjected to serious environmental and health hazards. However, under its constitution, Bahrain is committed to managing its natural and human resources and has since 1996 implemented a programme to reorganize the country’s environmental planning. The government has recognized that sustainable development can only be assured if the full range of potential impacts of development projects is assessed in a timely fashion and that action can only proceed from that assessment. Unfortunately, due to the limitations on the institutional capacity of government authorities and other relevant institutions in this field, there have been no comprehensive environmental health impact assessments.