Radiological hazards of Narghile (hookah, shisha, goza) smoking: activity concentrations and dose assessment

J Environ Radioact. 2008 Dec;99(12):1808-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2008.07.005. Epub 2008 Sep 2.


Narghile (hookah, shisha, goza, "water-pipe") smoking has become fashionable worldwide. Its tobacco pastes, known as moassel and jurak, are not standardized and generally contain about 30-50% (sometimes more) tobacco, molasses/juice of sugarcane, various spices and dried fruits (particularly in jurak) and, in the case of moassel, glycerol and flavoring essences. Tobacco contains minute amounts of radiotoxic elements such as (210)Pb, (210)Po and uranium, which are inhaled via smoking. Only very few data have been published on the concentrations of natural radionuclides in narghile tobacco mixtures. Consequently, the aim of this study was to draw first conclusions on the potential hazards of radioactivity in moassel tobacco in relation to narghile smoking. The results indicate the existence of a wide range in the radioactivity contents where the average (range) activity concentrations of (238)U, (234)Th (226)Ra, (210)Pb, (210)Po, (232)Th and (40)K, in Bq/kg dry weight were 55 (19-93), 11 (3-23), 3 (1.2-8), 14 (3-29), 13 (7-32), 7 (4-10) and 719 (437-1044)Bq/kg dry weight, respectively. The average concentrations of natural radionuclides in moassel tobacco pastes are comparable to their concentration in Greek cigarettes and tobacco leaves, and lower than that of Brazilian tobacco leaves. The distribution pattern of these radionuclides after smoking, between smoke, ash and filter, is unknown, except for (210)Po during cigarette smoking and from one existing study during moassel smoking. Radiological dose assessment due to intake of natural radionuclides was calculated and the possible radio-toxicity of the measured radionuclides is briefly discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive / analysis*
  • Egypt
  • Humans
  • Polonium / analysis
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radium / analysis
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Social Environment
  • Tobacco
  • Uranium / analysis


  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Smoke
  • Uranium
  • Polonium
  • Radium