Lag Ba’omer Bonfire. Photo: Ido Shkedi
Every year, on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Lag Ba’Omer – when it is customary to light bonfires – we see a major increase in air pollution, and in the number of burn injuries for children. The Ministries of Environmental Protection (MoEP) and Health are updating guidelines for Lag Ba’Omer this year, in order to minimize damage to the environment and to public health, and to ensure public safety. Lag Ba’Omer eve is being celebrated on Wed., May 25, 2016.
Be Extra Vigilant
Every Lag Ba’omer, there is a massive increase in particulate matter in the air, which can affect the respiratory system, and in carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. Air monitoring has shown that pollution is two to four times higher on Lag Ba’omer than it is on an average evenings, and can be up to 18x above the average in some places.
Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay: "It is possible and important to celebrate, while also keeping in mind our environment and our health. It is imperative to avoid burning plastic and hazardous materials that increase pollution. And in this era of cooperation, it is preferable to [join together] and reduce the number of bonfires being lit."
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman: "Lag Ba’Omer bonfires can be dangerous to the environment and public health. It is our obligation to ensure safety and environmental practices, in order to prevent unnecessary injuries and to reduce air pollution that causes morbidity. We are asking responsible parents to be especially aware so as not to endanger ourselves and our children."
MoEP Guidelines for Lag Ba'Omer
- Do not throw plastic bags or other plastics into bonfires.
- Do not throw disposable cups, plates, or cutlery – made of plastic or and Styrofoam – into bonfires. Burning of these materials causes emission of carcinogens and bad odors.
- Do not burn wood substitutes, such as melamine, MDF, or Formica into bonfires. These materials are made of adhesives that emit dangerous particles, and bad odors, when burned.
- Do not throw painted or varnished wood into bonfires.
- Do not throw glass or stones into bonfires. They could explode from the heat, and endanger those nearby.
- It is recommended to join forces and celebrate together, in order to reduce the number of bonfires, and thus the air pollution emitted.
- Do not sit close to the fire, nor in the direction the smoke, in order to avoid the inhalation of pollution.