Air pollution is widely recognized as hazardous to human health. Airborne pollutants are responsible for a wide array of respiratory and cardiovascular outcomes, even at very low level concentrations. Few studies have examined the association between air pollution and health outcomes in Israel, concentrating primarily on children and examining a narrow spectrum of health outcomes. In a previous study we demonstrated a significant association between exposure to NOX and acute health outcomes which led to visits to the emergency department of Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. This project focused on quantifying possible associations between air pollution levels and visits to primary care community clinics due to acute respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms. The long-term purpose of the study was to contribute to the achievement of an evidence-based interventional infrastructure to guide environmental policy in Israel.
The work followed a historical-cohort study design, covering the years 2000-2007. The database was stratified by age group, sex, and time period, examined the effects of the transition of Eshkol power plant (Ashdod) from oil to natural gas, and provided a basis for modeling similar changes in other locations (Tel Aviv, Haifa).