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A national day with near zero emissions and its effect on primary and secondary pollutants

Ilan Levy

Atmospheric Environment
Volume 77, October 2013, Pages 202–212

Traffic related air pollution is a major health concern in many countries. The potential costs and benefits of different abatement policies are usually estimated by either models, case studies or previously implemented intervention measures. Such estimations have, however, limited ability to predict the effect of a reduction in primary pollutants'''' emissions on secondary pollutants such as ozone, because of the nonlinear nature of the photochemical reactions.

This study examines the short term effects of a drastic change in emissions on a national scale during the Jewish holiday of Day of Atonement (DA) in Israel. During the holiday nearly all anthropogenic emission sources are ceased for a period of 25 h, including all vehicles, commercial, industrial and recreational activities. DAs during the 15 years period of 1998–2012 are analyzed at three sites with respect to primary and secondary air pollutants, and in greater details for 2001.

A dramatic decrease in primary pollutants emissions (83–98% in NO) causes an 8 ppbv increase in ozone at the urban core. Downwind (27 km), ozone decreases by only 5 ppbv. Nighttime O3 is shown to increase to 20 ppbv at the urban sites and 30 ppbv downwind.

In spite of the striking reduction in emissions, changes in ozone are not greater than what is reported in the literature about less significant events like the ozone weekend effect. Changes in ambient pollution levels observed during DA provide some indication to the possible outcomes of a major change in anthropogenic emissions. These may be considered as the best case scenario for emissions reduction intervention measures and thus aid policy makers in evaluating potential benefits of such measures.