Shalom Life | September 27, 2014

Study: Less Driving on Yom Kippur Lowers Pollution

Seems like toxins and pollutants have decided to fast as well

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: September 13th, 2013 in News » Israel

Times of Israel brings our attention to a study by a researcher at the Technion Institute that has found that during Yom Kippur, pollution levels fell significantly throughout Israel, especially in Tel Aviv, during the 25-hour period from the start of Yom Kippur to its end.

The study was published in the latest edition of the scientific journal ‘Atmospheric Environment', and while this drop had only been studied sporadically beforehand, Dr. Ilan Levy of the Technion’s Civil and Environmental Engineering has given an ounce of legitimacy to those who clam that the air feels clean on Yom Kippur.

On Yom Kippur, the preferred method of transportation switches from cars to bikes, eliminating the exhaust by a significant margin. Levy’s study shows that the resulting change in the level of pollution occurs almost instantaneously. Nitrogen oxide levels drop anywhere from 83-98% throughout Tel Aviv, with nitrogen dioxide levels falling as well. Levy examined 15 years of pollution data to determine this.

Car pollution isn’t the only form of pollutant that is lowered on Yom Kippur. Other sources of primary pollution also disappear, with smokestacks of factories (save for those of the Israel Electric Company) also disappearing for the day. Despite this, secondary pollution, which involves the interaction of pollutants already in the atmosphere, have been found to rise.

Speaking on the findings, Levy detailed how repeating the effects of Yom Kippur would effect the environment on other days of the year.

"The policy implications of this study are substantial. A change in vehicle fleet to low-emission vehicles will have a major impact on both primary and secondary pollution levels over large regions, while possibly increasing secondary pollution levels at the urban core," Levy stated in his research. "The health benefits associated with the large regional changes are expected to be far greater than the costs of increase in secondary pollutants (i.e., ozone) at the congested urban core. Moreover, the low levels of primary pollutants will benefit not only populations at risk (i.e., young children, the elderly and people with existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions) but also the entire population."

If fasting a few times a year means helping to preserve the environment, it seems palpable that many would go for such an initiative.

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