Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Israel Moves To Curb Haifa Pollution as Birth Defects Rise

Responding to a new University of Haifa study indicating that pollution from nearby factories may be causing birth defects in the Haifa area, Israel’s environmental protection minister pledged to take “drastic” measures.

On Monday, Avi Gabai convened an emergency meeting with Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and said that if additional studies confirm the university’s findings, the government is prepared to close factories if necessary, the Times of Israel reported.

Several oil refineries, power plants and chemical manufacturing factories are located in or near Haifa, which is also a busy shipping hub.

Gabai said the government has a plan to cut pollution in half by 2018, but did not provide details.

While previous studies found higher rates of cancer among Haifa residents than those elsewhere in Israel, the new study, made public on Sunday, also found that newborns in Haifa have smaller-than-average heads and low birth weights.

Last April, hundreds of Haifa residents held demonstrations to protest local pollution following reports that the Health Ministry’s chief of public health services had found that half of the cases of cancer in Haifa children were due to the city’s air pollution.

The new study describes the neighborhoods of Kiryat Haim, Kiryat Bialik and southeast Kiryat Tivon as the epicenters of pollution-related disorders, and says residents there are five times more likely to develop lung cancer and lymphoma than those living elsewhere in the country, according to the Times of Israel.

Haifa is Israel’s third-largest city and its most ethnically mixed. Approximately 10 percent of the city’s population is Arab-Israeli.





    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.