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Air Pollution

The Haifa Bay area is well known for the poor quality of its air, related to emissions from heavy industry located in the area, non-supervised combustion at landfills and the use of pollutant fuels in vehicles. Furthermore topographic conditions and the Mediterranean climate impede the efficient scattering of pollutants into the atmosphere. The Minister of Environmental Protection, Mr. Gideon Ezra, appointed Prof. Yoram Avnimelech, on behalf of the S. Neaman Institute, to lead a research project to evaluate the air quality of the Haifa Bay area.

After intensive activity by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Haifa District Municipal Association for the environment, the air quality in Haifa Bay has improved over the last decade, and the pollution levels are below the Israeli and international standards. Nevertheless, the high concentration of industry and the special climatic conditions require extra action, particularly because of the high morbidity and mortality rates in nearby areas related to past and present air pollution problems. Evidence from several studies indicates a 20% higher rate of cancerous growths above the national average in the Haifa and Kiriat Tivon areas. There is no evidence of differences in death rate from cancer, yet the rate of death from heart diseases is 10-15% above the national average.

Prof. Avnimelech's report confirmed the public concern regarding severe public health risks, and also raised questions regarding the reliability of previous statistical data. The report recommends that area factories should comply with strict environmental standards, which can be achieved using advanced technologies.

A public discussion about air pollution in Haifa bay was held on January 30, 2007.

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