Emissions from ships that switch from fuel oil to cleaner-burning diesel may still cause health problems, according to a new study, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Scientists studying the effects of maritime ship emissions on lung cells observed a stronger “biological response” to diesel-fuel emissions than heavy fuel oil exhaust.
Ships have been converting from running on fuel oil to diesel in recent years, driven by stricter emissions standards in certain regions, including new rules implemented across much of North America and Europe this year.
However, while heavy fuel oil emissions contained more toxic and carcinogenic compounds, diesel fuel exhaust had a higher concentration of elemental carbon, or soot. Those soot particles “strongly affected basic cellular functions,” according to the study by scientists from several universities and research centers in Europe.
A stronger affected cell metabolism is not an adverse effect per se, but it holds a higher risk of disturbance of normal cell functions,” the study found.
Still, the particles released by heavy fuel oil-powered ships are more toxic. Researchers concluded that diesel-fueled ships—equipped with effective particle filter technology—should replace heavy fuel vessels. They also called for the global implementation of stricter emissions limits.
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