WHO: Israel Rates 40th on Air Pollution

YERUSHALAYIM -
Pollution in the Northern Israeli city of Haifa. April 15, 2015. Photo by Basel Awidat/FLASH90
Pollution in the northern city of Haifa. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Air pollution continues to be a major problem in the world, a World Health Organization study released this week said – and it continues to be a major problem in Israel. Based on measures of particulate matter detected in the air (PM10), Israel is the 40th-most-polluted country in the world. Many other countries in the region are faring far more poorly – Iran is the third-most-polluted country in the world, Iraq comes in tenth, and Turkey 23rd.

In Israel, the most-polluted city is Petach Tikvah, followed by Eilat, Bnei Brak, Arad, Sderot, Kfar Masaryk, Givatayim, Pardes Chana, Sdeh Yoav, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Carmei Yosef, Hadera and Be’er Sheva. Yerushalayim rates relatively well, about 20th on the list. Haifa and its suburbs, perhaps surprisingly, get a very clean bill of health – placing in the mid-30s on the list of most-polluted places, with air far cleaner than in the center of the country.

With that, Israel is a small country, and pollution in one region can easily spill over into other regions, depending on wind direction, weather and other factors, said health officials.

According to the WHO, air pollution causes as many as one hundred diseases, among them heart disease and lung disease. Some 3 million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly, the WHO said in its report. In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6 percent of all global deaths) were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together. Nearly 90 percent of air-pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with nearly two out of three occurring in WHO’s Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions. Ninety-four percent are due to noncommunicable diseases – notably cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Air pollution also increases the risks for acute respiratory infections, the report added.