A senior Health Ministry official confirmed Monday that a higher incidence of cancer and asthma has been found in Haifa.
The data emerged from a study by a research team at the University of Haifa, using data from 2012 up to the present.
The specific affected residential areas are primarily the side of Mount Carmel facing the industrial zone, the southeastern part of Kiryat Tivon, Kiryat Haim, and Kiryat Bialik.
The data show the incidence of lung cancer and lymphoma is up to five times higher than the national average among adult residents in the city.
In addition, babies born to residents in these areas have birth weights and head sizes 20 to 30 percent lower than those in other parts of the city.
Moreover, a study of children in Haifa ages 6 to 14 show the incidence of asthma was 2.5 times higher in the port city than in other less polluted areas.
Of growing concern is the damage to the developing fetus that is also becoming clearer, and which has implications for other health problems later in life as well.
It is believed by researchers at the University of Haifa that chemicals emitted by factories in the city are responsible for at least some of the problem.
The current research study by the University of Haifa team is nearing the end of the first year of a five-year project led by Prof. Boris Portnov and Dr. Jonathan Dubnov. The team is culling its data from the health maintenance organizations (HMO/kupat holims), hospitals, the IDF and cancer databases).
The initial findings, to be published in March, so far have also indicated that air pollution has not declined in recent years. The interim conclusions will be submitted at the end of the month to the relevant authorities, including the Health and Environmental Protection Ministries.Hana Levi Julian