This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
All over the world, air pollution is thought to be blamed for a host of diseases — cancer, birth defects, and many more. And despite efforts by authorities to reduce pollution in industrialized areas — such as Haifa, Israel — the problem persists and seems to be getting worse.
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One reason for that, according to Israeli optics technology firm Opgal, is that authorities are looking in the wrong place: Instead of examining the towers that spew out smoke, what needs to be checked are the joints on the pipes that transport gas, oil, and chemicals.
“Effective gas-leak detection equipment is vital to keeping employees, products and the environment safe,” said Amit Mattatia, president and CEO of Opgal. “Over the last years, we have been very successful in developing specialized algorithms and sensors that are highly sensitive to the presence of gas traces in the invisible spectrum, and we have included this technology in our EyeCGas FX thermal camera system.”
In a study released in February, University of Haifa researchers suggested a link between infant disorders and pollution caused by heavy industry. According to the research, babies born in certain neighborhoods of Haifa adjacent to heavy industry had heads with circumferences recorded at 20-30 percent less than elsewhere. In addition, there was a higher incidence of cancer and lung diseases among the population there.
Although Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry will come out with its own report only later this year, it said that it was “operating on the assumption” that air pollution in the Haifa Bay was too high. The area is home to Israel’s highest concentration of oil refineries, power plants, chemical factories, and other “smokestack industries” that clearly are a major source of pollution in the area.
The city has already begun implementing some pollution-reducing projects, such as limiting traffic in downtown areas, adding filters to diesel-powered buses, and increasing monitoring of factories to ensure that they do not exceed legal limits for the release of pollutants.
But according to Opgal, there’s more that needs to be done. In any highly industrialized area, there are many “invisible” sources of pollution such as leaks from pipes or underground storage facilities; or undetected emissions of pollutants from unexpected or unknown sources (perhaps an old underground gas tank that over the years was forgotten).
To solve that problem, Opgal has developed EyeCGas FX, a gas-leak detection camera for installation in petrochemical, oil and gas plants as well as offshore platforms and rigs.
The system, said Opgal, is able to quickly detect a variety of hydrocarbon gas emissions such as ethylene, methane, butane, propane and various VOC (volatile organic compounds). EyeCGas FX includes a sensitive infrared camera and an HD color camera for fast recognition of such fugitive emissions in the areas being inspected. It then automatically alerts plant personnel via a color display and a warning message, or connects to alert systems such as text messaging system.
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Photos and video: Courtesy