Report: Air Pollution Levels Are Twice the Legal Limit

Air pollution in Israel poses a serious threat to the health of the Israeli public, even though in recent years the power stations have started using cleaner natural gas and local gas stations have begun to provide cleaner fuels than in the past. This finding emerges from the report on air quality in Israel in 2007, published by the Environmental Protection Ministry.

According to the report, all the ministry's measuring stations last year registered an exceptional rise in the concentration of tiny pollutant particles that cause heart and lung diseases and are the source of hundreds of deaths each year. The deviations that were measured ranged between 120-187 percent from the legal limit. Even graver were the measurements near main traffic arteries, which exceed the legal limit by 200 percent. Especially high concentrations of ozone were registered in both Haifa and Carmiel, but also in Afula, Modi'in and Carmei Yosef.

Ozone is the result of a combination of pollutants emitted from vehicles, industrial plants and gas stations. At the higher levels of the stratosphere, ozone protects the planet from the infiltration of radiation, but at the lower stratospheric levels, exposure to ozone constitutes a health hazard. That is where the name "bad ozone" comes from. Apart from its being carcinogenic, it also causes a rise in mortality among the elderly and exacerbates the condition of asthma patients.

But, aside from these disturbing figures, there are also a few trends pointing toward an improvement over previous years - the result of the increased use of cleaner fuels. The Tel Aviv area, for example, has registered a downward trend in the number of deviations from air quality standards as compared to previous years.

In response to these findings, Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra said: "Reducing air pollution is one of our main goals for the coming years. We are working on implementing a clean air law. At the same time, I have instructed our professionals to increase the random spot checks of industrial plants and to formulate long-term plans to reduce air pollution."