Haifa is  the main port city in the north of Israel. The Haifa port is the gate for imports from all over the world, but it is also the home to some of the biggest chemical factories in Israel, which results in the highest air pollution hub in the country.
It has been known for years that Haifa and its surrounding towns are victims of higher polluted air than anywhere else in the country, due to these factories and vehicle pollution. Though a recent research has revealed that the situation is much worse than what was assumed until now.

Haifa air pollution
Air pollution in Haifa (image from http://www.phc.org.il)

This recent study discovered that in the areas that are directly down wind and facing the polluting factories, babies are born at a lighter weight and with heads 20-30% smaller than in other areas of the city. More so, it was found that lung and lymphoma cancer were diagnosed in adults 5 times more than the average in the rest of the country. Dr. Hagai Levin, from the Hebrew University, explains that the birth defects can increase the risk for death after birth, and in later ages can lead to diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and even cognitive problems such as low IQ.

This most recent discovery has really shaken the country, though the knowledge of the pollution is not new at all. The government and the city of Haifa are in constant battles with the factories to lower the release of dangerous and harmful gases and chemicals into the air. Every year they say the situation is “better”, although we see this isn’t true.
What I think is so sad is that the people working in these factories live in the effected neighborhoods, and their kids too are getting hurt by this pollution.

To rub salt into the wound, after this latest study was published, Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of the Hezbollah, came out with a statement saying that these factories, specifically the Ammonia tanks, are his “own nuclear bomb.” As if the pollution from these factories isn’t enough damage to the people of Haifa, they also need to be reminded that if the Hezbollah wanted to, with just a few rockets they can turn the factories causing cancer and birth defects into a nuclear bomb-like explosion.