Yom Kippur Noted for ‘Dramatic’ Drop in Air Pollution

Men arrive to say Tashlich on the banks of the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv on Monday. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

With businesses and factories closed, and few, if any, drivers on the road, Yom Kippur again was marked by a significant drop in air pollution. According to Environment Ministry officials, air pollution levels dropped “dramatically” in most of the country, after Israelis parked their cars and buses remained in their depots as Yom Kippur began.

By way of the example, officials pointed to the readings at a pollution control station in Haifa’s lower city area. On the morning of Erev Yom Kippur, nitrogen readings at the station were 181.3 parts per billion; automated recordings showed the level of nitrogen in the atmosphere 24 hours later at just 3.3 parts per billion. In the center of Yerushalayim, nitrogen levels fell from 81.7 parts per billion before the holiday to 12 ppb. In central Tel Aviv, the numbers fell from 34.8 ppb to 3.5.

High nitrogen concentration levels are the result of fuel emissions, and the drastic reduction in that specific element of pollution shows just how central transportation emissions are to pollution levels – and how controlling those emissions could improve air quality dramatically.