Air quality

The National Master Plan for Ben Gurion Airport, NMP 2/4, which governs the activities of the  Airports Authority with regard to environmental policy, defines in its environmental chapter (Chapter 9: “The Environmental Network”) the “environmental and flight monitoring system”.


This monitoring system is managed, operated and maintained by the Environmental Department  in the Planning and Engineering Division of the Airports  Authority, under the supervision of an authorized public body.


The system consists of two separate monitoring systems: an air quality monitoring system and a system for monitoring noise and tracking  flight routes. 



The Air Quality Monitoring System, AQMS,  is composed of two “end stations” for monitoring pollutant concentration levels,  that are connected to a computerized control center comprising  two ”work stations”.


Monitoring is applied to  three pollutant concentrations:

  • Nitrogen oxides (NOX)
  • Tropospheric ozone (O3)
  • Fine breathable particles (PM2.5)

The monitoring system continuously samples the air, carries out physical and chemical analyses of these samples, and transmits the data to a data base from which the required reports are produced.


Each of the end stations (monitoring stations) is connected to an independent meteorological subsystem that transmits - simultaneously and in real time - four meteorological parameters:  wind direction, wind intensity, temperature and relative humidity.  These parameters are highly significant  for  the air pollution characteristics  that are monitored  and stored in the database at the system’s control center.


The system’s specifications and construction  were  coordinated with the Ministry of the Environment.  Operation, report production and maintenance are carried out  according to standards which the Airports  Authority is required to meet, based on  definitions of the National Monitoring Center (NMC) of the Ministry of the Environment.




Schematic structure of the Air Quality Monitoring System




The location of the end stations was determined following meticulous testing carried out in collaboration with academic bodies and the National Monitoring Center of the Ministry of the Environment. The end stations are characterized as “general stations” measuring pollutants in the air space, and positioned approximately 10 meters above the ground.


·         The Ben Gurion Airport monitoring station is positioned on the roof of the Airports Authority’s main office building.

·         The Beth Rivka monitoring station is positioned on the roof of the Beth Rivka College, approximately  850m south of Terminal 3 and about  250m north of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway.


Location of air quality monitoring stations





The AQMS monitoring system samples and monitors three major air pollutants that result  mostly  from human activity combined with natural activity, generating gases and particles known to  damage the health of  human beings and agricultural crops.


The main source of these pollutants is the combustion of fossil fuels in traffic and industry, which directly affect pollutant concentrations in the atmosphere and also create “secondary pollutants” that likewise affect man and the environment.


The monitoring network of the Airports Authority was set up in order to spot and monitor pollutant concentrations in the Ben Gurion Airport area and was positioned (in coordination with professionals and agents of the Ministry of the Environment) in places where maximum concentrations of the pollutants normally occur. 


The three pollutants monitored by the AQMS monitoring system at Ben Gurion Airport are specified below:


1.  Nitrogen oxides (NOX)


Nitrogen monoxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are produced directly from fuel combustion  by vehicles and industry (as well as, in low concentrations, from natural sources, such as volcanoes and thunderstorms).


Studies indicate that nitrogen oxides have a direct effect on the respiratory tract and lungs, irritation of the eyes and weakening  of the body’s resistance to bacteria.


Nitrogen oxides (especially NO2) contribute to the creation of acid rain, which damages forests and agricultural crops.


Nitrogen dioxide plays a central role in the formation of ozone, and also contributes in various  situations, by turning into fine aerosols, to the creation of fine breathable particles, PM2.5 (see below).


The values of nitrogen oxides (NOX) in general, published in this report, apply to 24-hour samples.


The maximum 24-hour threshold standard for nitrogen oxides, as determined by the Ministry of the Environment: 298 parts per billion.


2.  Tropospheric ozone (O3)


Ozone is an oxygen molecule consisting of three atoms.  The “tropospheric ozone” exists at a low altitude and, contrary to the “stratospheric ozone”, which occurs at an altitude of 25 km and protects us from  ultraviolet solar radiation, the low ozone is a main pollutant.


The nitrogen oxides form the basis for the creation of low ozone. As mentioned above, these oxides are formed mainly as a result of traffic activities, and their concentrations are high in urban areas (the Dan metropolitan area).


Solar irradiation of these compounds converts part of them into ozone (a secondary pollutant), which is carried down the wind and reaches its maximum concentration at midday, and at a distance of several kilometers from where the ozone-creating substances were formed.


Ozone is a strong oxidant.  Many  studies  have shown the extent of damage  that high, long-term ozone concentrations are capable of causing in the respiratory system, eye irritation and vision functions as well as damage to white blood cells.


The ozone (O3) values published in this report apply to 8-hour samples.


The maximum 8-hour threshold standard for ozone, as determined by the Ministry of the Environment, is 81.5 parts per billion (8-hour samples).


3.  Fine breathable particles (PM2.5)


The particles are composed of natural substances present in the atmosphere: ash, dust, stamens, smoke, as well as substances produced  through human activities: emissions from motor vehicles (especially diesel engines), industrial smoke, mining and fine aerosols in the atmosphere. 


The particles constitute a mixture of different sizes.  In a rough  classification for purposes of concentration monitoring, it is customary to distinguish between sizes of 10 to 2.5 micrometers (PM10) and sizes of 2.5 micrometers and below. The small particles are called “fine breathable particles” (“particulate matter 2.5”).


Particles of 2.5 micrometers and below are the group that is more dangerous to the lungs, because they get through  the natural filtering system, which  the larger particles do not penetrate.


The small particles enter the trachea and may deposit in the lungs.


Research results show a direct correlation with heart-lung diseases and an effect on people suffering from various chronic respiratory diseases.


At the request of the Ministry of the Environment, the Airports Authority installed special equipment for measuring of PM2.5, and thus,  our monitoring network is among the first to monitor “fine breathable particles”.


Sampling and monitoring for PM2.5 relates to 24-hour values. The measuring units are micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3).


The maximum 24-hour threshold standard, as determined  by the Ministry of the Environment, is 150 µg/m3.



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