Air Quality Monitoring

Air quality monitoring in Israel started in the beginning of the 1970s in the Tel Aviv and Ashdod areas, when the major emphasis was on pollutants emitted by the Reading and the Eshkol power plants. During the course of the 1980s, four regional automatic networks for air monitoring were set up around the major power plants in Israel by the Environmental Protection Service (forerunner of the Ministry of the Environment) and local environmental units. These networks, in Haifa, Hadera, Ashdod and Ashkelon, work alongside additional stations run by local authorities in Jerusalem, Petah Tikvah and Ra’anana and stations run by the Israel Electric Corporation around its power plants in Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Haifa. The major parameter monitored in all the stations is SO2. In some, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter are also measured; in a few, ozone and/or carbon monoxide are measured. In 1994, 63 air monitoring stations operated in Israel, including the newest network for the monitoring of airborne chemicals in the Ramat Hovav industrial chemical complex and hazardous waste site.

In order to provide a long-term view of air quality in Israel, data from a representative sampling of air monitoring stations included in the national network (nine monitoring stations) have been compiled and analyzed over the past decade. The stations are located in commercial urban centers, industrial urban areas, industrial suburbs and residential suburbs.

Following is a short review of major findings with respect to compliance with Israel’s ambient air quality standards.

Sulfur dioxide: With the exception of Haifa and Ashdod, no violations of the absolute standard (1000 micrograms/cubic meter) were recorded during 1986-1993. While violations were recorded throughout 1986-1991, the highest concentrations occurred in 1990 in Haifa (2,623 mg/m3) and in Ashdod (2,462 mg/m3). Peak concentrations in 1993 were all well below the standard. No violations of the statistical standardwhich allows for 45 episodes in which half-hour concentrations are between 500-1000 mg/m3were recorded. (All concentrations are half-hour averages).

Nitrogen oxides: During 1986-1993, violations of the standard (940 micrograms/cubic meter) were recorded in Jerusalem, Ashdod and Tel Aviv. In Jerusalem, violations were noted in 1989-1991 with concentrations varying between 964-1064 mg/m3; in Ashdod, a violation was recorded in 1989 at 1,635 mg/m3; in Tel Aviv, monitoring results showed concentrations as high as 2576 mg/m3 in 1993 (half-hour averages).

Ozone: In 1993, violations of the standard (230 micrograms/cubic meter) were noted in Jerusalem, Ashdod and Haifa. The following concentrations were recorded: in the commercial center of Jerusalem281 mg/m3; in the industrial center of Ashdod261 mg/m3; and in the industrial suburb of Haifa235 mg/m3. The most severe violation ever recorded was noted in the industrial center of Hadera in 1985732 mg/m3 (half-hour averages).

Suspended particulate matter: During 1986-1993, violations of the standard

(200 micrograms/cubic meter) were noted in most areas. The most blatant violations were recorded in 1992 in a residential area of Hadera, where the maximal concentration for 24 hours reached 704 mg/m3 and in the commercial urban center of Petah Tikvah where the concentration reached 380 mg/m3 in the same year (24-hour averages).

Air quality monitoring in Tel Aviv, Ashdod and Haifa continues to indicate negative environmental impacts. The power plant and the oil refinery are the major culprits in Haifa; industrial areas in B’nai Brak and Petah Tikvah and the Reading power plant are responsible for air pollution in the Tel Aviv area; and both the power plant and oil refinery are major contributors to pollution episodes in Ashdod.

Air Quality Research

Research on various aspects of air pollution is an integral part of Israel’s environmental policy. Such research includes epidemiological health surveys to check the impact of air pollution on the health of the population, monitoring and study of air pollutants in various sensitive areas and means of abating air pollution through improvements in the intermittent control systems operating in Haifa and Ashdod. Further details on air quality studies undertaken in Israel are included in the research chapter of this book.

Future Directions in Monitoring

Availability of nationwide accurate data on air quality is a prerequisite for the formulation of a comprehensive national air quality management program. In Israel, however, monitoring stations are limited to the environs of power plants and major industrial areas. In some areas in which industrial plants abound, such as Tel Aviv and Beersheba, monitoring does not exist. Monitoring of vehicular pollutants in city centers and densely populated areas is sporadic at best. Moreover, under unfavorable meteorological and topographical conditions, the pollutants may be transported from one region to another, adversely affecting areas dozens of kilometers away. The need for a nationwide monitoring system which will cover all geographical areas of the country is therefore imperative. Furthermore, a national control center for data storage, analysis and display is sorely neededfor education and information purposes and for the development of long-term strategies for pollution prevention.

Israel has recently prepared a preliminary program for a multi-million dollar national air monitoring system with a central data storage and display center. A tender to select a planner for this project has recently been published. The national system will be based on three levels of activity, collection and processing of data: individual stations, regional control centers and a national data processing center. Three types of individual stations are envisioned: stations for the monitoring of pollutant concentrations from stationary sources; stations along the roadside for the monitoring of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides emitted from mobile sources; and stations equipped with facilities for the monitoring of airborne chemical substances.

Some 50 additional stations are planned in addition to the 63 stations currently in operation. New regional stations will be set up in Nazareth, Tel Aviv-Ramle, Jerusalem and the south. The project will be implemented over a three-year period with first priority to be accorded to the establishment of monitoring stations in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

Emission Standards

In order to protect human health and to preserve the environment, environmental policy must be based on a number of principles: precautionary action, the polluter pays principle and cooperation between environmental and economic bodies. Emission standards are a major means of implementing this policy. National legislation is aimed at establishing targets for the minimization of air pollutants, and emission standards are to be based on best available technologies.

Thus far, emission standards in Israel have been established only within the framework of personal decrees issued under the Abatement of Nuisance Law for over 20 industrial plants. For other plants, specific limits, based on emission standards issued by the Federal Government of Germany, were set within the framework of business licensing.

At present, the Ministry of the Environment has completed Hebrew drafts, modeled on the German regulation (1986 TA-Luft) and on its Dynamic Concretisation Clauses of 1991, for the following emission standards: total dust (particulate matter), volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides from small and large furnaces, sulfur dioxide from small and large furnaces, vaporous or gaseous inorganic substances, inorganic dust particles and carcinogenic substances. The draft regulations will soon be distributed to the relevant government agencies and to the general public for comment. It is anticipated that they will come into force within a year.

Prevention of Environmental Nuisances from Waste Incinerators

Although there are as yet no regulations in Israel regarding the control of air pollution emissions from waste incineration installations, the Ministry of the Environment has issued guidelines based on directives promulgated by the European Union and on German regulations. The guidelines cover installations for the incineration of municipal waste, and are not intended for incineration of hazardous waste. They are meant to aid the Ministry of the Environment as well as municipal environmental units to determine requirements within the framework of business licenses and environmental impact statements.

Following are the emission standards set in the guidelines (under standard conditions and 11% oxygen):

TSP: 30/10 mg/m3, 0.5/24 hours.
Total HC: 20/10 mg/m3, 0.5/24 hrs.
HCl: 60/10 mg/m3, 0.5/24 hrs.
CO: 100/50 mg/m3, 1/24 hrs.
HF: 4/1 mg/m3, 0.5/24 hrs.
NOx: 400/200 mg/m3, 0.5/24 hrs.
SO2: 200/50 mg/m3, 0.5/24 hrs.
Cd and compounds: 0.05 mg/m3, 0.5 hr.
Hg and compounds: 0.05 mg/m3, 0.5 hr.
Sb+As+Pb+Cr+V+Sn+Co+Cu+Mn+Ni: 0.1 mg/m3, 0.5 hr.
Dioxines and Furanes: 0.1 ng/m3, 0.5 hr.

The Ministry of the Environment has also adopted the requirements set forth in the Commission of the European Communities directive on the incineration of hazardous waste. The requirements included in this directive will apply to all hazardous waste incinerators which will be established in Israel, such as the Ramat Hovav hazardous waste site.