The original story (in Hebrew) can be found at the Y-Net Website.
Israel Launches "Bucket Brigades"
by Yael Dral
Posted: 12:10:09, 09:12
Instead of waiting for answers from the authorities, more and more people throughout the world are collecting their own air pollution data. Simple sampling methods, called "bucket brigades," use special buckets to perform simple but accurate sampling.
Haifa Bay has very polluted air. Local residents have known it for years. Factories in the region are slowly reducing their pollution, but existing air quality data is not always available to the residents. The Ministry of Health admitted yesterday that there is little information regarding the various pollutants in the region.
This uncertainty sometimes leads to apathy, but around the world, groups are understanding that action is the only solution. Where authorities have failed in providing data, citizens have begun to collect their own.
A local organization, the first of its kind in Israel, is aiming to stop depending on official bodies for monitoring, and is going out to check the quality of the air on its own. The organization operates in the north under the name Ks"m Association (Community Environmental Monitors). Ks"m seeks to encourage communities to take responsibility for cleaning up their air.
The Bucket Brigade, which arms communities with environmental data, was first tried in California in the 1990s. The buckets are easy to build at home and use a bag to capture air. The bag is then sent to a laboratory for professional results.
California's experience of using the Bucket Brigade followed a toxic leak at a Unocal refinery. The Bucket Brigade was able to reveal a leak to authorities and force the company to clean up. The prosecution was lead by Ed Masry (who later became famous for Erin Brockovich). With the help of the air samples collected by the community, Unocal agreed to pay $80 million to the 6,000 residents affected by the leak.
Advocates of "the bucket" claim that the California case illustrates the principle of self-reliance. Communities are empowered to act in the face of ongoing failures by the authorities.
The California case demonstrated how community involvement can be used as evidence to clean up the polluters. Since the first use, buckets have been distributed to many states and countries, like Louisiana, Texas, Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington, South Africa and Mozambique. Today, there are literally dozens of communities around the world using the bucket.
Israel came late to the idea of sampling. Many other communities take soil and water samples, but the first Israeli Brigade, forming at Kiryat Tivon, is interested in sampling the air. The organization was founded by two environmental advocates from the North, Amit Rabin from the Coalition of Public Health and Elad Rudiakov, formerly active in "Green Course."
The pilot project is being supported by Global Community Monitor (GCM), an American organization working with communities from around the world. They are also being helped by SHATIL Public Health.
How much does it take to make and use the bucket? Ks"m estimates that the price of the bucket is around $150 and the cost of the analysis of each sample will range from $150-300.
Ks"m will sponsor a conference on Thursday at Oranim. Held in cooperation between Ks"m, Coalition for Public Health and GCM, the conference will feature three American air monitoring experts. There is a long list of expected participants, including the Ministry of Environment. "This is a method adapted to communities and individuals," says Rudiakov. "For the first time, the public is given the option of taking control of their life through tools and methods for monitoring the air."
The conference will be held on Thursday, October 15 at 17:00 at Oranim College.