The ministry for environment protects has announced that a dramatic drop in air pollution levels coinciding with the holiday of Yom Kippur.
Sensors around the country noted a drop in nitrous oxide (NO), a pollutant associated with vehicle exhausts. The phenomenon was primarily felt in large cities, which also have the most vehicular traffic. Vehicle traffic was also noted as the largest source of pollution for urban areas in the government's annual report, released last month.
In Gush Dan the amount of NO dropped from 139 ppb (parts per billion) before the holiday to only 2.8 ppb. Similarly, the levels in Haifa fell from 229 ppb to 2.8 ppb, and from 179 ppb to 2.8 ppb in Jerusalem.
The ministry has been developing a number of projects to fight vehicular air pollution, including tax incentives for "green" vehicles, converting trucks and buses to run on natural gas, subsidizing adjustments to reduce emissions from heavy vehicles, and encouraging commuters to take bicycles and public transportation instead of private vehicles.
When inhaled, nitrous oxide penetrates deep into the respiratory system. It often leads to respiratory infections and weakened immune systems. The symptoms range from lung and eye irritations to susceptibility to diseases such as pneumonia.
Researchers have found that children are the most sensitive members of society to nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Children who are exposed to high levels of No2 tend to be more sensitive to respiratory and lung infections as well.