Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection has announced that the decline in economic activity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly reduced air pollution in Israel over the past week. The concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the atmosphere has fallen to 30% below average levels.
The government's draconian instructions, which have sought to flatten the infection curve and reduce social contact to allow the health system to cope with the spreading epidemic, have in particular significantly cut use of public transport and vehicle usage. Travel on public transport is down 50% in Jerusalem, 60% in the greater Tel Aviv area, and 85% in the Sharon area.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection's national air monitoring system examined the air quality data for the past week and compared them to the average in recent months. The results of the test, conducted by Dr. Ilan Levy from the national air monitoring system, show that concentrations of NO2 dropped by 10 micrograms per cubic meter to 35.5 micrograms per cubic meter between January 1, 2020 and March 11, 2020. The average concentration during March 12-March 16 was measured at 25 micrograms per cubic meter, a 30% reduction.
The pollutants tested by the ministry's national monitoring service are NO2 and fine particle matter (PM2.5) - air pollutants resulting from human activity, such as transportation and industry.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection says that at this stage, it cannot be stated unequivocally that the reason for the decline in NO2 over the past week is solely the reduction in emissions of pollutants from transportation; the weather conditions may also have played a role. At the same time, the reduction in NO2 concentrations is consistent and clear, steep and unmistakable, and took place at all of the monitoring stations checked.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 19, 2020
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