Amir Peretz at Palmahim Beach 370.
(photo credit: Sharon Udasin)
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz has urgently ordered the promotion
of stricter air quality standards that would be capable of preventing 700 deaths
each year, the ministry announced on Saturday evening.
his office to complete the proceedings involved with making air quality
standards that determine acceptable pollution levels in the atmosphere more
stringent, the ministry said. These new standards will be submitted to the
Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on Earth Day – Monday,
April 22 – the office added.
In addition, Peretz ordered that the
tightening of standards occur hand-in-hand with the resumption of promoting a
national program to prevent air pollution, which was halted for the election
period. According to Israel’s Clean Air Law, such a program was required to go
into effect by January 1, 2012, and environmental groups have been up in arms
over its failure to do so.
“In order to ensure that the air here is
cleaner, we must take a hard line,” Peretz said, stressing that air pollution
regulations in Israel should go beyond even European standards.
urgently ordered a renewal of the advancement of the national program for the
prevention of air pollution.”
Full compliance with the ministry’s new
standards would be able to prevent the deaths of 700 Israelis each year, also
saving hundreds from hospitalization and significantly reducing the incidence of
heart and lung diseases, the ministry noted. In light of the reduced health
issues, the country would save an estimated NIS 8 billion each year, the office
For the first time ever, Israel will be establishing a standard
for concentrations of tiny respirable PM 2.5 particles, known globally as one of
the most influential air pollutants on public health, the ministry explained.
The new standard for Israel, which experiences heavy dust storms from North
Africa and high pollution levels from traffic congestion, will be 25 micrograms
per cubic meter – the average level for the country.
While 25 micrograms
per cubic meter annually is equivalent to the European standard for PM 2.5
presence, the United States has much stricter regulations, with the US
Environmental Protection Agency bringing its standard down in January from 15 to
12 micrograms per cubic meter annually.
In response to a query from The
Jerusalem Post, the ministry explained that the US is able to maintain a much
lower standard than Israel since they don’t experience the dust storms that
dominate the region here.
In addition to increasing stringency on PM 2.5
presence, the ministry will also be adjusting standards for nitrogen dioxide and
sulfur dioxide to be even stricter than those in Europe. Meanwhile, following a
decision on the part of the US EPA to increase the permissible concentration of
methylene chloride in the air, the Environmental Protection Ministry, in
conjunction with the Health Ministry, chose to adopt this standard as
All new standards will take effect in two years, enabling factories
and other facilities to adjust their operations in order to meet the new
standards, the ministry said. In addition, no new factories, roads, quarries or
other sites that are not able to meet the strictest air quality standards will
be approved in the future, the office added.