Environment Ministry: Lag Ba'omer Bonfires Bad for Global Warming

Data shows traditional holiday flames increase air pollution by up to twice the permissable level.

The Environment Ministry on Thursday announced that recent data it had collected shows that the air pollution on Lag b'Omer is twice the permissible level, due to the large numbers of traditional holiday bonfires.

In the wake of the report, the Knesset Interior Committee recommended a reduction of bonfires in order to minimize the damage caused on the holiday.

According to the data, large amounts of carbon dioxide released by the flames affect global warming. Additionally, studies show an increase in the number of emergency room visits around Lag b'Omer that are related to worsening air quality. The bonfires also cause a sharp increase in breathing difficulty for people suffering from Asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

The committee recommended that the Education Ministry instruct students about the negative impact that the bonfires have on the environment. It also proposed urging revelers to build smaller bonfires with a greater number of participants, and encourages efforts not to harm trees or burn plastic boards or colored wood.

The committee also decided to ask local authorities to demarcate specific areas for the bonfires so that the Health and Environment Ministries can post public warnings about the dangers of burning plastic bags, garbage and glass.

Committee chairman MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) said, "The traditional holiday bonfires have environmental and health implications. Air pollution spikes significantly, and there is a risk of burns and damage to vegetation." Pines-Paz added, "We are not suggesting canceling the bonfires, but rather increasing public awareness about the damage caused by them."

MK Esterina Tartman suggested that the Education Ministry initiate a competition among students to reduce the damage caused by bonfires.