Traffic on the Ayalon Highway. Photo: Ilan Malester
2014 Air Quality Report: Transportation is Main Cause of Pollution in Cities
Traffic on the Ayalon Highway 
Photo: Ilan Malester 

The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) has published an annual monitoring report of toxic and carcinogenic materials emitted in 2014, as well as a map of odor nuisances around the country and what the MoEP has done to deal with them. The report – the first one of its type published in Israel – shows that transportation is the main cause of pollution in city centers. In 14 places where samples were taken, there were especially high concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which is the product of fuel combustion in both transportation and industry. The information is based on data taken from more than 100 monitoring stations around the country.

On Wednesday, September 2nd, the MoEP published a report on the air quality in Israel in 2014, including the results of monitoring of a large number of air pollutants.

The data showed that there was an exceedance of nitrogen dioxide emitted from vehicles near arteries in large city centers. Particularly extreme irregularities were found in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood in Jerusalem and in the Jerusalem city center, as well as in transportation hubs in major metropolitan areas in Haifa, Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

In addition, in the industrial area of Ashdod, high concentrations of VOCs were found for benzo [a] pyrene and formaldehyde, the products of fuel combustion in industry and transport. Lead and cadmium levels were 1.34 times the standard, while nickel and arsenic levels were 2.92 times the standard. These are dangerous toxic metals, coming from metal and accumulator recycling plants, a refinery, and a pesticides factory.

​Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay: "There must be a dramatic change in the treatment of air pollution from transportation and industry in Israel. The Haifa Bay action plan is only the beginning, and will lead to the necessary steps in other cities."

In 2014 the MoEP conducted 257 spot checks of factory smokestacks – in 35 factories. Spot checks are carried out in order to monitor and test the reliability of results of periodic inspections carried out by the facilities themselves. These tests found abnormalities in eight factories; the MoEP has begun enforcement processes against them.

It should be noted that since 2002, there has been a decrease in both vehicular and industrial air pollution. This is in the wake of upgrades in fuel quality and stricter vehicular emissions standards.

Meantime, the MoEP continues to expand its actions in the battle to reduce air pollution. These actions include:

  1. Incentives to convert factories to run on natural gas
  2. Incentives to convert trucks and buses to run on natural gas
  3. Increased supervision and enforcement
  4. More site visits and spot checks in industrial facilities
  5. Subsidizing the installation of equipment to reduce emissions from heavy vehicles
  6. Projects to reduce private car use and increase use of public transportation and bicycles
  7. Expanding the system of monitoring air quality, as well as the list of pollutants that are monitored
  8. Making information more transparent and accessible.