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.