Air pollution as a result of Lag Ba’Omer bonfires was high on late Wednesday night and Thursday morning, with the highest concentration of respirable particles occurring during the hours of 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. on average, according to the Environmental Protection Ministry.
Concentration of respirable particles smaller than 10 microns, measured in micrograms per cubic meter, which on a typical clear day is about 60 on average throughout the country, was highest in Kiryat Ata and Beersheva, at 168 and 166 respectively, followed by Arad, with 148. Jerusalem’s Romema neighborhood had a concentration of 143 micrograms per cubic meter and its Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood had 135. The southern portion of Tel Aviv had measures of 107 micrograms per cubic meter, while Modi’in had 120 and Beit Shemesh had 111.
Concentrations of particles smaller than 2.5 microns, which on a clear day average about 30 to 40 micrograms per cubic meter, were particularly high in Gedera between 10 p.m. and 1:30 a.m., at 250 micrograms per cubic meter. In Nir Yisrael, the concentration at about 10:30 p.m. was about 190 micrograms per cubic meter.
The measurement of particle concentrations was influenced by the relative location of the fires to the monitoring stations, as well as meteorological conditions such as wind direction and speed, the Environmental Protection Ministry report noted. In addition, this year particle concentrations decreased in the Gush Dan and Jerusalem areas, due to the reduction of available open space in these cities and others, according to the report. Research conducted in the field indicated that there was a temporary upsurge in emergency room visits related to air quality due to Lag Ba’Omer bonfires, the ministry said.