The results of joint experiments conducted by Russian and Egyptian physicists from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Moscow Region, showed that the waters of the Nile River are the cleanest among the rivers of other countries.
The press service of the institute notes that the Nile River is the largest source of clean drinking water on the African continent, but the issue of its ecological state has long remained unexplored.
In this regard, a group of scientists from the Neutron Physics Laboratory of the Institute, together with their Egyptian colleagues, studied the initial composition of the bottom surface sediments in the Nile Valley and the soil on its banks using a method called neutron activation analysis.
During this study, the researchers determined the source of chemical elements in the samples and the level of their accumulation, which made it possible to identify the ecological state of the river.
At the beginning of the study, the researchers took samples from the south of Egypt to the Aswan Dam and from Cairo to Alexandria, including the river basin, after which the study “covered” the entire territory of Egypt from south to north, where the river flows into the Mediterranean Sea.
Since this is the first study of water resources in Egypt, the researchers decided to compare its results with the results of similar studies conducted in other countries. The researchers found 32 chemical elements in Egyptian samples, the concentration of which was lower than in samples from other countries. This means that the water of the Nile is cleaner than all the bodies of water studied so far.
However, there are relatively heavily polluted areas, for example, at the mouth of the river and near the city of Helwan, where the results of the analysis of some samples showed an increased content of titanium, arsenic, sodium, magnesium, uranium, thorium and chlorine in them.
Senior scientist Wael Badawi said: “Its source is different in soil and sediment. In some places it is natural, but in some samples mixed elements appeared, which means that human activities apart from nature contributed to its existence. Here we can refer to the processes of extraction and transportation of phosphate ore.”
However, the average concentration of heavy metals in the samples remains at or below the internationally approved level. The researchers emphasize that the concentration of nickel, copper and zinc in the samples was below the approved values.
The scientists plan to expand the study in Egypt and conduct the same analysis of samples taken from lakes and reservoirs in the river delta. And since the course of the Nile from source to mouth passes through 12 countries, the study will not be further limited to the lands of Egypt.
“We want to invite all the countries of the Nile basin to join a huge project and carry out the same analysis in other areas of the valley of one of the largest waterways in the world in order to build a comprehensive picture of the environment in the Nile basin. Badavi says.
Sudan, Ethiopia and Tanzania could be next candidate countries for such studies.