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עמוד בית
Tue, 05.12.23

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December 2019
Nili Greenberg PhD, Rafael S. Carel MD DrPH, Jonathan Dubnov MD MPH, Estela Derazne MSc and Boris A. Portnov PhD DSc

Background: Asthma is a common respiratory disease, which is linked to air pollution. However, little is known about the effect of specific air pollution sources on asthma occurrence.

Objective: To assess individual asthma risk in three urban areas in Israel characterized by different primary sources of air pollution: predominantly traffic-related air pollution (Tel Aviv) or predominantly industrial air pollution (Haifa bay area and Hadera). 

Methods: The medical records of 13,875, 16- 19-year-old males, who lived in the affected urban areas prior to their army recruitment and who underwent standard pre-military health examinations during 2012–2014, were examined. Nonparametric tests were applied to compare asthma prevalence, and binary logistic regressions were used to assess the asthma risk attributed to the residential locations of the subjects, controlling for confounders, such as socio-demographic status, body mass index, cognitive abilities, and education.

Results: The asthma rate among young males residing in Tel Aviv was 8.76%, compared to 6.96% in the Haifa bay area and 6.09% in Hadera. However, no statistically significant differences in asthma risk among the three urban areas was found in controlled logistic regressions (P > 0.20). This finding indicates that exposure to both industrial- and traffic-related air pollution is associated with asthma prevalence.

Conclusions: Both industrial- and traffic-related air pollution have a negative effect on asthma risk in young males. Studies evaluating the association between asthma risk and specific air pollutants (e.g., sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and nitrogen dioxide) are needed to ascertain the effects of individual air pollutants on asthma occurrence. 


October 2015
Avraham Ebenstein PhD, Eyal Frank and Yaniv Reingewertz PhD

Background: Exposure to air pollution in the form of particulate matter smaller than 10 µm in diameter (PM10) has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality. However, since air pollution is correlated with confounding factors that might otherwise affect health, identifying the causal link has proven challenging. 

Objectives: To identify the effect of PM10 on hospital admissions due to respiratory illnesses. 

Methods: We used the Instrumental Variable (IV) methodology to control for confounding factors affecting hospital admissions. Exploiting the timing of sandstorms as an instrumental variable allows for a better estimate of the relationship between PM10 and hospital admissions. Data on PM concentrations and hospital admissions rates were compiled for Israel’s two largest cities, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, for 2007–2009. We compared our IV estimates to those derived from a Poisson regression, which is commonly used in the existing literature. 

Results: Sandstorms led to an increase of 307 µg/m3 of PM10 concentrations. A 10 µg/m3 increase in PM10 is associated with a 0.8% increase in hospital admissions due to respiratory conditions, using Poisson regression. The same finding was noted using the IV methodology. 

Conclusions: The association between PM10 and hospital admission reflects a primarily causal relationship. Instrumental variable methodology could be applied to analysis of the effect of air pollution on hospital admissions. 


July 2015
Nili Greenberg MSc, Rafael Carel MD and Boris A. Portnov PhD DSc

Studies of the respiratory effects of air pollution in Israel published in peer-reviewed journals have been infrequent. Most empiric evidence relates to the association between air pollution and childhood asthma; other air pollution effects on other illnesses are less thoroughly studied. Our evaluation provides a possible explanation for the quite contradictory results demonstrated in the various studies. Actual effect estimates appear to differ considerably, ranging from no air pollution effect to a reasonably strong association detected between PM10 and asthma. We attribute these discrepancies to different research methodologies and different types of data used in various studies.

September 2008
L. J. Rosen, D. Zucker, H. Rosenberg and G. Connolly

Background: Secondhand smoke poses a serious health hazard. In Israel The recent passage of a law designed to protect people from secondhand smoke in public places was greeted with controversy. The debate is taking place without data on actual levels of pollution for secondhand smoke in public places.

Objectives: To estimate levels of small respirable suspended particles, atmospheric markers of secondhand smoke, in Israeli bars, pubs and cafes, to compare them with levels in other countries, and to analyze RSP[1] determinants.

Methods: This study was conducted in bars, pubs and cafes in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv prior to passage of the enforcement bill. Venues were randomly sampled from lists available in the local mass media.

Results: The average level of RSPs across all venues, 283 μg/m3, was nearly identical to levels in countries without enforced smoking bans. Bars and pubs had higher values than cafes (P = 0.0101). The effect of smoker concentration was borderline significant (P = 0.0540), with RSP levels increasing as smoker concentration increased. The effect of venue height was also borderline significant (P = 0.0642), with RSP levels decreasing as venue height increased.

Conclusions: Levels of indoor air pollution from secondhand smoke in Israeli bars, pubs and cafes prior to the recent passage of the enforcement bill were similar to levels in countries without enforced smoking bans, and roughly 10 times as high as countries with enforced smoking bans. Whether the new law will successfully promote clean air in Israeli bars, pubs, cafes, and other indoor places is yet to be seen.

[1] RSP = respirable suspended particles

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