A damning new report out of the UK has suggested the world’s cruise liners have air pollution that’s as bad as some of the world’s most polluted cities.
According to The Australian, a new investigation from the UK’s Channel 4, Dispatches, has shown that even out on the open waters, air pollution on some cruise ships is double that of central London.
Per the report, the exhaust fumes that flood out of the ship when out at sea are not covered by regulations on land that limit emissions, and the fuel oil used to power cruise ships is allowed to carry 3,500 times more sulphur than road fuel.
Per the article on The Oz, by standing on the deck, downwind of the ship’s funnel, investigators found you’re likely to cop air pollution of 84,000 ultrafine particles per cubic centimetre.
What the heck does this mean in laymen’s terms?
Well, ultrafine particles are pretty bad for humans, because they’re about a thousand times thinner than a strand of human hair. This means they easily sneak past our nostril hair and throat, and can wedge their way into our lungs and throughout the body.
So back to the 84,000 ultrafine particles on a ship – that’s over two times more than what you’d find at Piccadilly Circus in London, per Dispatches.
Per The Oz report, a respiration biologist at Southampton University, Matt Loxham, said this spells bad news for cruise goers.
“There are some areas of the ship deck that are affected by really quite high levels of particulate matter. These are levels you would expect in some of the most polluted cities in the world,” Loxham said.
Over 1.2 million Aussies took a cruise last year, according to CLIA. That’s a 21 per cent increase on the previous year.
Per The Oz, Loxham said the air pollution could affect asthmatics and make cardiovascular symptoms for passengers with pre-existing conditions worse.
Per the investigation, Daniel Rieger, from German eco-charity Nabu, said a single cruise liner could create as much polluted matter as one million cars.
“You can say that 30 cruise ships pollute as much as all the cars in the United Kingdom,” he said.
According to The Oz, the team from Dispatches travelled on P&O Cruises’ Oceana, which can carry more than 2000 passengers. They used infra-red cameras to film gases not visible to the naked eye, and a P-Trak ultrafine particle counter to measure how polluted the air onboard was.
Per The Oz, Carnival Corporation – owners of P&O Cruises – said cruise liners made up less than one per cent of the world’s “50,000 commercial maritime vessels”.
“Although a tiny fraction of the global maritime industry, cruise lines are leaders in implementing alternative fuels and emission-reduction technology,” a spokesman said, per The Oz.
“The industry has invested more than $US10 billion in new ships that can use alternative fuels such as liquefied natural gas.”
Per The Oz, the cruise line said it had spent $US400 million installing exhaust gas cleaning systems on 60 ships that could reduce particulate matter by up to 80 per cent.
If we go by Carnival’s figures for 2015, its fleet released the equivalent of 10 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, writes The Oz.