Vehicle pollution on the rise in Sharon, Gush Dan areas

The number of petrol-fuelled vehicles in the Sharon and Gush Dan areas in breach of pollution standards has risen by seven percent since 2006, but the number of diesel-fuelled vehicles in breach of those standards has fallen by 2% in the same areas at the same time, according to figures released by the Public Council for the Prevention of Noise and Pollution. The figures show that polluting petrol-fuelled vehicles comprised 15% of vehicles on the roads in 2008, while polluting diesel-fuelled vehicles comprised almost 6%, reports According to the report, the council, generally known by its Hebrew acronym MALRAZ, conducted random tests on 6,419 commercial vehicles, trucks, buses, taxis and private cars in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Petah Tikva, Bnei Brak, Holon, Ra'anana and Kfar Saba in 2008, and compared the results with similar tests done in the same areas in 2007 and 2006. The report said taxis were the most polluting type of vehicle, with 13% of them found to be in breach of standards. They were followed by buses (6.5%), commercial vehicles (6%) and trucks (just 0.5%). "The fact that every seventh vehicle with a petrol-powered motor that is five years old or older, and every seventh taxi (even recent models), is polluting the air and breaching the standards should worry us all," a MALRAZ spokesman said. He said the problem of air pollution in cities was the "most severe environmental problem" in Israel, especially because air pollution was almost invisible. The spokesman said air pollution raised the rate of illness and particularly affected lower socio-economic groups, pedestrians, the elderly, children, and those living near major traffic arteries through lack of choice. He said the Ministry for Environmental Protection had to classify air pollution as a central problem and allocate resources and manpower to it to reduce the damage, something that had not been done in the past decade. The report said vehicles found to be in breach of pollution standards were fined sums ranging from NIS 250 to NIS 2,000, and were automatically removed from the road until the problem was fixed and a new test was passed. The fines are transferred to the Ministry for Environmental Protection's special cleanliness fund.