Study Links Haifa Bay Pollution to Increased Cancer Risk
i24 News – A new Israeli study finds a link between environmental exposure to industrial air pollution in Haifa Bay and cancer risk increase in the period from 1967 to 2012, long before the national plan took effect to reduce air pollution in the area.
During these years, according to the study conducted jointly by the Hebrew University, Hadassah Hospital, the Technion and the National Center for Disease Control of the Ministry of Health, the exposure to industrial air pollution in the Bay of Haifa increased cancer risk by 7-16 percent.
These morbidity rates manifested in various types of cancer, including breast cancer, central nervous system cancer, head and neck cancer, leukemia, melanoma and thyroid cancer.
In March 2022, the Israeli government approved a decision to halt petrochemical activity in Haifa Bay within a decade. The decision was made based on a report requested by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Prime Minister’s Office on the matter.
The research conducted under the leadership of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, examined the relationship between industrial air pollution and the incidence of cancer, asthma and other atopic (allergic) diseases in Haifa Bay.
Exposure to industrial air pollution in Haifa Bay was assessed by an exposure model constructed for the purposes of this study, based on sulfur dioxide data from monitoring stations in 2002-2004, in areas where these concentrations could be largely attributed to industrial emissions.
The links found in the study between industrial air pollution in Haifa Bay and cancer incidence are consistent with a causal effect of industrial air pollution in Haifa Bay on the risk of these diseases.
Over 45 years, 47,129 participants were diagnosed with cancer, with a crude incidence rate of 142.8 cases per 100,000 people in the unexposed group — residents of the rest of the country — and 171.5, 171.7 and 174 .8 cases per 100,000 people in the low, medium and high exposure groups in Haifa Bay, respectively.
The most common cancer in the general population, as well as in the Haifa Bay population, was female breast cancer, followed by melanoma. Among male participants, the most common cancer involved the reproductive organs.