09 November 2007

Ships' smoke kill 60 000 a year

Air pollution belched from ocean ship smokestacks causes 60 000 premature deaths worldwide each year.

Air pollution belched from ocean ship smokestacks causes 60 000 premature deaths worldwide each year. And that toll could increase to 84 000 a year within five years if nothing is done to clean up those emissions, says a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

The dangerous pollution is created by the Bunker C fuel that powers ship engines. The researchers noted that this fuel contains nearly 2 000 times as much sulphur as the diesel fuel used in trucks in North America and Europe, the Toronto Star reported. The high levels of sulphur, along with nitrates and particles, in ship emissions can cause fatal heart and respiratory problems, including lung cancer. People who live along coasts near busy shipping lanes are at greatest risk.

While pollution controls are common in many industries, international shipping is unregulated, said David Marshall, of the Clean Air Task Force, one of the groups that commissioned the study.

The shipping industry "has gotten away Scot-free to this point, partly due to the feeling that since the emissions are out of sight they can't harm anyone," Marshall told the Star. – (HealthDay News)

Read more:
Air pollution linked to cancer
Air pollution can kill


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