03/02/2016
Haifa Bay Photo: Ilan Malester
MoEP on Haifa Morbidity Report: We Are Continuing Work to Reduce Air Pollution
Haifa Bay
Photo: Ilan Malester
Following a meeting in late January with researchers conducting an epidemiological monitoring project in Haifa Bay, the ministers of environmental protection and health have decided to take full responsibility for the project. The study is examining possible links between air pollution and morbidity in the area. Ministers Avi Gabbay and Ya’akov Litzman say their close involvement with the project, including its funding, will ensure that external factors will not affect researchers.

​Minister Gabbay says he and Health Minister Litzman have been dealing with the issue of Haifa Bay pollution since the establishment of the latest government.

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay: "We are taking many actions to reduce pollution in Haifa Bay, and we have seen a decrease. Still, if the study proves the situation is worse than we assumed, we will have to take stricter measures, including shutting down polluting factories that harm public health."

The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) launched an action plan in 2008 aimed at reducing pollutant emissions in Haifa Bay. The plan resulted in an 11% decrease in pollution levels, but more action was needed. In 2015, the government began implementing an updated plan. The National Plan to Reduce Air Pollution and Environmental Risks in Haifa Bay includes stricter regulations for industry, increased supervision of factories, establishment of a low-emissions zone in Haifa, and other provisions aimed at reducing air pollution.

The aforementioned epidemiological project is a 5-year study being funded by the MoEP, the Health Ministry, and other entities. Researchers who were invited to present their findings say their studies suggest a link between industrial pollution in the area and certain infant disorders. While the MoEP notes that further study is necessary, Minister Gabbay also says the ministry will be following the study closely.

Minister Gabbay: "We have received an open check from Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who has promised that we will not lack resources for anything related to dealing with air pollution in Haifa Bay."