The air quality near major traffic arteries in Israel continues to be poor and often deviates from the targets set by the Environmental Protection Ministry as suitable for preventing health risks. That, according to a report on air quality in Israel in 2015. The report says that in northern Ashdod there is a significant concentration of pollution from factories.
Air pollution from traffic is especially serious in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area (Gush Dan) and includes high concentrations of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (the tiny particles that penetrate the respiratory system). In Bnei Brak and the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station there were deviations from the annual standard for particles that can cause illnesses and premature death by damaging the respiratory system and blood vessels.
Deviations from nitrogen oxide concentrations, which also damage the respiratory system, were found mainly near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, which has very high pollution levels. There were 59 deviations from the half-hour standard (a concentration of pollution measured over a 30-minute period). Two other highly polluted areas were Bar-Ilan Road in Jerusalem and Ha’atzmaut Street in Haifa.
The Environmental Protection Agency measured high concentrations of formaldehyde and benzo[a]pyrene, two known carcinogens. These substances are emitted from vehicles and from facilities for producing and storing fuel, or are created by chemical processes of pollutants emitted from these sources. Deviations from the standards for these substances were found wherever the ministry conducted sample tests last year.
A particularly problematic focus of industrial pollution, in addition to the Haifa Bay, was Ashdod’s northern industrial zone, where with high concentrations of heavy metals such as cadmium, nickel and arsenic were recorded. They can damage various body systems and are presumably emitted by battery factories and metal recycling facilities in the area.
Another other toxic substance found in Ashdod is trichloroethylene, which the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences classifies as a definite human carcinogen (the highest level of scientific certainty for a carcinogen) based on new scientific findings.
The Environmental Protection Ministry expects a decline in traffic-related air pollution in Haifa for 2016, due to the introduction of a program to restrict the entry of polluting trucks to the city center. In the coming months the ministry is expected to submit for approval by the cabinet a national program to reduce air pollution generated by vehicle traffic.
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