As cars disappeared from the roads and bicycles sailed through the highways
instead, air quality levels were very good throughout Yom Kippur, the
Environmental Protection Ministry reported on Sunday.
The plunge in air
pollution was particularly prominent in the big cities, places that are
typically heavily affected by pollution from vehicles, the ministry explained.
Such a noticeable improvement in these areas on Yom Kippur indicates the
considerable effect that transportation has as the main source of air pollution
there, the ministry said.
With the holiday the concentration of nitrogen
oxides plunged, dropping by 92 percent in the Gush Dan region.
measurements of nitrogen oxides reached 9 parts per billion during the holiday,
compared to up to 116 parts per billion on the morning of the day before, the
Environment Ministry said.
Jerusalem featured a 95% drop in nitrogen
oxide levels, falling from 194 parts per billion to 9 parts per billion on Yom
Haifa’s nitrogen oxide levels fell from 41 parts per billion at
6:30 a.m. the day before Yom Kippur to 8 parts per billion during the holiday,
the ministry data said.
“We emphasize that the drastic reduction applies
only to nitrogen oxides and not respirable fine particles, because the particles
have a longer stay in the atmosphere – about 10 days – until they are removed
from it,” the ministry said.
Nitrogen oxides – which include a number of
nitrogen oxygen compounds, such as nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and nitrous
oxide – penetrate deep into the respiratory tract, causing various symptoms of
respiratory diseases and reducing the body’s response to bacteria. At low
concentration, this can mean lung and eye irritations, but at higher
concentrations, it can weaken the body’s defense systems, leading to illnesses
such as pneumonia, the Environment Ministry said.
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