Environmental Health Program



Since the inception of the Environmental Health Research Unit in 1990, it has focused its research on environmental pollution in Saudi Arabia and its impact on public health. More specifically, it tries to assess the extent of exposure to pollutants such as heavy metals, pesticides, phthalates, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the general population with a particular reference to women and children. The Saudi environment has changed drastically over the last few decades. The rapid urban, commercial industrial and agricultural development of the Kingdom has led inadvertently to some visible and invisible elements of environmental deterioration. For example, the massive increase in land transportation, factories, oil refineries, use of pesticides etc. has increased the levels of air, food and water pollution that may be the invisible causes behind some serious diseases such as cancer, birth defects, neurodevelopmental and other potential hazards to the environment and public health.

The Program has managed to achieve over the years a national and international scientific recognition through its publications, funds, training and collaborations. The environmental studies may prove to be modest steps on the long road to establish a database that can provide the information necessary for public health departments, health care providers, and policymakers to promote public health awareness, develop a better knowledge of health and disease as well as implement more appropriate measures.


Research Activities 

Our research program focuses on three (3) interactive areas:

  • Biomonitoring studies
  • Exposure Risk Assessment
  • Biochemical Toxicology


Main current research interests are:

  • Assess human exposure to environmental chemicals such as heavy metals, organochlorines pesticides, phthalates esters, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the general population with a particular reference to women and children
  • Investigate the association between exposure to pollutants and adverse health effects such as neurodevelopment, and pregnancy outcome.
  • Examine the potential genotoxic effect of phthalates added as preservatives in cosmetics/personal care products using various assays with different genetic endpoints.

EHP Directions:

  1. Identify our research priorities in the light of the rising national and international environmental issues;
  2. Continue to collaborate productively with our clinical colleagues in order to promote public awareness of the implications of our research findings for improved clinical management;
  3. Continue to publish brochures and articles about important topics to raise public health awareness regarding the environment; and
  4. Develop a fee-for-service program utilizing the existing human and technical expertise and resources.


Education and Training

The EHP has; always, pursued a strategy based on offering opportunities in-house and postgraduate training in collaborations with local academic institutions.



  • Biomonitoring studies
  • Flow Cytometry Facility
  • Biochemical Toxicology