Clean fuels could reduce deaths from ship smokestacks by 40,000 annually

July 8, 2009,
Clean fuels with lower sulfur levels could reduce deaths from ship smokestack emissions by 40,000 annually, scientists say. Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Rising levels of smokestack emissions from oceangoing ships will cause an estimated 87,000 deaths worldwide each year by 2012 -- almost one-third higher than previously believed, according to the second major study on that topic. The study says that government action to reduce sulfur emissions from shipping fuel (the source of air pollution linked to an increased risk of illness and death) could reduce that toll. The study is in the current issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology.

James Winebrake and colleagues note that most oceangoing burn fuels with a high sulfur content that averages 2.4 percent. Their smokestacks emit sulfur-containing particles linked to increased risks of lung and heart disease. A 2007 study by the researchers estimated that about 60,000 people died prematurely around the world due to shipping-related emissions in 2002. The new study estimates that the toll could rise to 87,000 by 2012, assuming that the global shipping industry rebounds from the current economic slump and no new regulation occurs.

Policymakers now are considering limiting ships emissions by either restricting sulfur content in fuel or designating control areas to reduce air pollution near highly populated coastal areas. Requiring ships to use marine fuel with 0.5 percent sulfur within 200 nautical miles of shore would reduce premature deaths by about 41,200, the study concludes. Lower sulfur reductions could reduce deaths even further, they say, adding that designated emission control areas will also have a positive impact.

More information: "Mitigating the Health Impacts of Pollution from Oceangoing Shipping: An Assessment of Low-Sulfur Fuel Mandates," & Technology

Source: American Chemical Society (news : web)

Explore further: Pollution from marine vessels linked to heart and lung disease

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4.7 / 5 (3) Jul 08, 2009
There's no physical reason larger ships can't cost-effectively use small nuclear reactors; just like numerous submarines, ice-breakers and naval ships do today.
5 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2009
I wonder what the methodology was to determine that the emissions from smokestacks were the cause of death, as opposed to say smoking, car exhaust, wild fire fumes, etc.
4 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2009
Re nuclear power, that is correct. Nuclear power is stymied by invincible ignorance.

There was a commercial nuclear powered ship, the NS Savannah http://en.wikiped...Savannah
not rated yet Jul 09, 2009
Theres no physical reason, but maintaining proper control over nuclear substance is a tough job. A bit of uranium 235 could be a weapon.
5 / 5 (2) Jul 09, 2009
Theres no physical reason, but maintaining proper control over nuclear substance is a tough job.

That's nonsense. You wouldn't believe the beating submarine reactors can take(hint: they're not baseload powerplants and they don't need much care).

All modern LWRs are walk-away safe. Even if all operators just leave the controls they'll fail safely(i.e. eventually shut down without accident through a combination of passive physical means and active mechanical means).

You can build other kinds of reactors, e.g. molten salt reactors or uranium hydride reactors, which don't need any operators. They load-follow by themselves because if you don't remove the heat they get hotter, and that reduces the reactivity through a variety of mechanism(e.g. doppler-broadening, thermal expansion(MSR) and reversible chemical disassociation(uranium hydride).

A bit of uranium 235 could be a weapon.

Easily solved by not using weapon's grade uranium as fuel.
5 / 5 (2) Jul 09, 2009
Theres no physical reason, but maintaining proper control over nuclear substance is a tough job. A bit of uranium 235 could be a weapon.

This is a 40 year old view of nuclear technology, and continues to exist as reason for not allowing construction of new reactor technology.

Steam ships were dangerous as hell due to explosions and steam related fatalities from simple cracked pipes. If we stopped after one explosion, you and I would still be awaiting our goods to sail in from over seas.
5 / 5 (1) Jul 12, 2009
The oil/coal corps have spent many millions of dollars over decades to
sell disinformation to the populace.

The new 'Mini' Nukes are the way to go!

Like distributed computing instead of
just a few giant machines.
No massive nation wide 'smart' power grid is then needed.
Also, along the coasts, MNs can process
sewage, provide desalinated water along with their power generation.
IMHO, it's a win-win situation.

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