|1||Arad, Southern District|
|2||Or Akiva, Haifa|
|3||Or Yehuda, Tel Aviv|
|4||Yehud, Central District|
|5||Rehovot, Central District|
|7||Ketura, Southern District|
|8||Sderot, Southern District|
|9||Yavne, Central District|
|10||Erez, Southern District|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
|1||Karmiel, Northern District|
|2||Kfar Saba, Central District|
|3||Rishon LeTsiyon, Central District|
|4||Qiryat Bialik, Haifa|
|5||Mahane Sdom, Southern District|
|6||Nordiyya, Central District|
|7||Pardes Hanna-Karkur, Haifa|
|8||Yad Binyamin, Central District|
|9||Bet Shemesh, Jerusalem|
|10||Netanya, Central District|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
Israel is a country located in the western region of Asia, facing onto the southeastern shoreof the Mediterranean Sea. Israel shares borders with other countries such asLebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Amongst its cities, Tel Aviv is recognized asIsrael's economic heart, whilst the government and capital is based out ofJerusalem, also holding a vast amount of cultural significance for the country.
Regarding its pollution levels, Israel was observed coming in with PM2.5 readings of 20.83 μg/m³in 2019 as its yearly average, making it come in just behind other countriessuch as Cambodia and Algeria. PM2.5 refers to fine particulate matter that is2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, making it roughly 3% the size of a humanhair (when at 2.5 microns), although of note is that these small particles can besignificantly smaller, going down to sizes such as 0.001 microns, and with adecrease in size often comes an increase in danger levels, for reasons that will be discussed later.
Due to PM2.5’s incredibly small size and danger to health, it is used as a majorcomponent in calculating the air quality, with other chemicals and particulatematters such as ozone (O3), PM10, carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogenand sulfur dioxides all making up the components used to calculate the AQI, orair quality index. For the sake of simplicity (as well as its prevalence),PM2.5 will be mainly used to discuss Israel’s air quality levels.
Israel's PM2.5 reading of 20.83 μg/m³ put it into the ‘moderate’ pollution ratingsbracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of any number between 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³to be classified as such. When observing the many cities registered in Israel,the moderate rating seems to be a prevailing theme amongst all of them, withnearly all of the months across the various cities coming in with a moderaterating, save for the occasional dips down into the lower ratings brackets. Theeconomic heart of the country, Tel Aviv, came in with a PM2.5 reading of 21.8 μg/m³over 2019, putting it into 784th place out of all countries ranked worldwide.
Whilst these readings are all not too excessive in nature, they are indicative that Israelcertainly has pollution problems with its air, and could stand to improve themsignificantly, as any reading over the World Health Organizations target goalof 0 to 10 μg/m³ has a chance of causing adverse effects on the health of thoseexposed, with vulnerable portions of the population being the most at risk.These demographics would include young children, the elderly, pregnant mothersas well as the sick or immunocompromised being the most vulnerable to the negative side effects of pollution.
Israel sees itself having multiple sources of pollution, which are further compounded bygeographical and meteorological conditions, such as its arid or semi-arid climateand desert like environment, as well as a rapidly growing population coupledwith a lack of natural resources. Weather conditions such as high levels ofsunlight coupled with pollution on the ground level can lead to the furthercreation of other pollutants such as ozone (O3).
Regarding the main manmade causes, one of the big ones would be emissions from vehicles, withthe many cars, motorbikes and heavy duty vehicles such as lorries, trucks andbuses all putting out vast amounts of fumes. Many of these heavier ones wouldrun on diesel fuels, adding even further to the pollutive output, with a widervariety of contaminants than a non fossil fuel counterpart would. The list ofpollutants and fine particulate matters that these sources give out will be discussed in short.
Other causes of pollution are emissions from factories, which alongside the heavy dutyvehicles mentioned, often run on fossil fuels, although it has become moreprevalent in recent times for factories and other industrial production plantsto look into alternative fuel sources in an attempt to clean up Israel's airquality in the future. As it currently stands, the use of heavy machinery inthese factories will also run on diesel fuels, or sometimes fuels of lowerquality due to less stringent fuel regulation standards being enforced.
Besides the heavy machinery, the factories themselves often rely on coal as a main sourceof energy to power their production lines, the combustion of which gives out afurther number of pollutants and air contamination. This is not the mention theindustrial effluence that pours out from the factories as a byproduct ofwhatever is being produced. As an example, any plant that deals in theproduction of plastic production or recycling, will inevitably give out some form of plastic fumes.
So, in closing, the main sources of pollution, or ones with most salient initiativesbeing taken to address them, are emissions from cars and other similar heavyvehicle fleets, as well as factory emissions. Other smaller ones would includeparticulate matter pollution coming from construction sites, with the semi-aridenvironment being a conducive environment for tiny particles of finely groundsand, gravel and silica to be blown into city limits and built up along the roads.
This results in a phenomenon known as ‘road dust’, whereby naturally occurring materialssuch are rock, ores or metals end up on the roads, exposed to the fumes fromvehicle exhaust, often becoming permeated by chemical compounds and then sentbillowing up into the atmosphere, causing a deadly mixture of both chemicalsand particulate matters to permeate the air.
Observing the data taken over the various cities in 2019, there is a pattern emerging thatdictates when the pollution levels rise at certain times. Upon first glance atthe readings, there may appear to be no clear pattern, with the pollutionlevels being somewhat sporadic and subject to random changes, but regardingtimes when the PM2.5 levels are at their worst, it tends to be at the beginning and end of the year.
There are exceptions to this, with the cities of Bnei Brak, Qiryat Bialik and QiryatShamona all having some of their cleanest readings at the beginning of theyear, with the first two coming in with readings of 8.2 μg/m³ and 11 μg/m³ inFebruary, indicating a much better quality of air than many other cities.
To observe over the many cities when the worst reading was taken, the cities can beexamined from the most polluted ones onwards. Gan Raveh, Israel's most pollutedcity as of 2019, had its highest PM2.5 reading of 27.1 μg/m³ taken in November.Rishon LeTsiyon, Israel's second most polluted city, also had its highest PM2.5reading in November, coming in at 26.4 μg/m³.
Bnei Brak saw its highest reading in November at 29.1 μg/m³, whilst Ramat Gan and Holon bothsaw their most polluted months in January, with readings of 27.9 μg/m³ and 28.1μg/m³ respectively. This indicates that pollution tends to see its worst (ifonly by a slight margin) pollution readings during what is considered thewinter months in Israel, which runs from October to March the following year.
Due to many cities having their highest PM2.5 readings during this time, it can bedemonstrated that the colder weather will have adverse effects on pollutionlevels, with increased amounts of central heating taking place in homes andbusinesses, as well as the increased burning of organic materials such as woodfor the heating of homes, particularly in lower income districts, although thisdoes not see as much prevalence in modern times.
So, in closing, the times that Israel sees its worst levels of pollution would be inthe colder months, and as such preventative measures such as the wearing offine particle filtering masks as well as avoiding outdoor activity duringperiods of heightened pollution may become more important for those wishing tolook after their health. Information regarding this can be found on air qualitymaps available on the IQAir website, as well as on the AirVisual app.
With much of its pollution emanating from sources such as vehicular fumes and emissions, aswell as smoke and haze given off by factories and other industrial areas, itstands to reason that Israel would have a large amount of related pollutants permeating its atmosphere.
Vehicles are notorious for the release of chemical compounds such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2)and sulfur dioxide (SO2), with nitrogen dioxide being of particularconcern due to the excessively large amounts released from cars (as well asfrom factories, open burn sites or anything which has a form of combustion taking place).
Nitrogen dioxide is so present in areas that see high volumes of traffic that it canactually be used to calculate how much pollution is being caused by vehiclesalone, as with a high level of NO2 in the air, there will often be adirect correlation to large volumes of traffic below.
Sulfur dioxide is a dangerous chemical that can not only damage the lungs of those whoinhale it, but can contribute to the formation of acid rain, which has a numberof consequences on the environment. Ship fuel and other similar fuels that havemore lax regulations regarding the sulfur content are often the worst offendersfor the release of this pollutant.
Other pollutants in the air, found from both vehicles and factory emissions, would beblack carbon and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Among these VOC’s would besome dangerous materials such as benzene, toluene, xylene, methylene chloride,ethylene glycol and formaldehyde. All of these are extremely hazardous to humanhealth, and due to their volatile nature find themselves in gaseous form atmuch lower temperatures, hence easier to respire and of greater danger.
Of note is that volatile organic compounds can lend themselves to the formation of ozone,along with the aforementioned nitrogen and sulfur dioxides. Whilst it is anextremely important component of the stratosphere, having effects that arebeneficial for life on earth, when it finds itself on ground level it becomes aharmful chemical to breathe, triggering off asthma attacks as well as causing irritation to the throat and lungs.
Black carbon is an important particulate matter to mention, due to its release in highquantity from many combustion sources, particularly the incomplete combustionof fossil fuels as well as organic matter. It has carcinogenic properties wheninhaled, and can also effect the climate due to its ability to absorb solarradiation and convert it directly to heat, causing a change to localizedclimate and having knock on effects to the environment as well as human health.
With all the above mentioned chemicals and particulate matters being found in the air inIsrael, particularly during the colder months (although lacking the massivespikes in PM2.5 that other countries around the world often see), there wouldbe a number of health issues associated with both short and long term exposureto them, some of which have been touched on already.
Besides having carcinogenic properties, the previously mentioned black carbon can alsomake its way deep into the lung tissue when inhaled, causing scarring and rapidaging of the lungs, reducing their full capacity as well as increasing thepredisposition to a large number of respiratory issues, some of which wouldinclude pneumonia, emphysema, bronchitis and the aforementioned asthma attacks,which can also be triggered off by nitrogen dioxide.
Due to the incredibly small size of black carbon (as well as other fine particulatematters such as finely ground silica dust, microplastics or dangerous metals), ithas the ability to cross over the blood barrier in the lungs and enter thecirculatory system. From here it can wreak havoc on the whole body, causingdamage to the blood vessels to occur, as well as attacking the hepatic andrenal systems (liver and kidneys). Reproductive health can be damaged, leadingto lower fertility rates amongst the population.
Other issues that may occur include ischemic heart disease, whereby the heart tissue fails to receiveadequate levels of oxygen and gets damaged in the process. Heart attacks andarrythmias also become a heightened possibility, as well as the chance ofstrokes occurring. These are but a small number of possible health effects thatmay occur when exposed to higher pollution levels in Israel, and as mentioned,the higher the PM2.5 readings go, the higher the chance of developing such ailments rises alongside it.
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