6 December 2010

Health impacts of shipping pollution have been 'underestimated'

This is an interesting Guardian article that I've only just come across on the underestimation of the health impacts of shipping (which of course ferries all the goods we want and need from oil and gas to electronics and food.

Read the full article by clicking here.


  • One giant ship can emit air pollution equivalent to 50 million cars.
  • US academic research shows that pollution from the world's 90,000 cargo ships leads to 60,000 deaths a year in the US alone and costs up to $330bn per year in health costs from lung and heart diseases. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates the buffer zone [of 230 miles], which could be in place by next year, will save more than 8,000 lives a year with new air quality standards cutting sulphur in fuel by 98%, particulate matter by 85% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%.
  • Danish government environmental agency suggests that shipping emissions cost the Danish health service almost £5bn a year, mainly treating cancers and heart problems. A previous study estimated that 1,000 Danish people die prematurely each year because of shipping pollution.


  • The world's biggest container ships have 109,000 horsepower engines which weigh 2,300 tons.
  • Each ship expects to operate 24hrs a day for about 280 days a year
  • There are 90,000 ocean-going cargo ships
  • Shipping is responsible for 18-30% of all the world's nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution and 9% of the global sulphur oxide (SOx) pollution.
  • One large ship can generate about 5,000 tonnes of sulphur oxide (SOx) pollution in a year
  • 70% of all ship emissions are within 400km of land.
  • 85% of all ship pollution is in the northern hemisphere.
  • Shipping is responsible for 3.5% to 4% of all climate change emissions

Courtesy of Slashdot.com

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