Sea traffic, especially huge ships emitting nitrogen oxides and sulphates have been filling the air in coastal areas with nanoparticles which are dangerous and leading to unusual high death rates, revealed a study.
The study by experts in Lund University compared high levels of nanoparticles in coastal areas with other emissions from cars or road traffic to arrive at the revelations.
These nanoparticles from sea traffic in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea contributed to 10,000 premature deaths every year, said adam Kristensson, researcher in Aerosol Technology at the Lund University in Sweden.
“This is the first time an attempt has been made to estimate the proportion of nanoparticles stemming from sea traffic. The different types of nanoparticles have previously not been distinguished, but this new method makes it possible,” said Kristensson.
The new finding has reversed the belief that regular culprits like road traffic and industrial pollutants were the main cause for these deaths. Since nanoparticles are more hazardous as they penetrate deeper into the lungs than other pollutants, several cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases are visibly seen in the coastal areas.
the study also said the wind often travels towards the east and nanoparticles reach longer distances before they get into lungs or washed away by rains. For this, they studied the air flow from Finnish archipelago to the Lithuanian station.
Though a new regulation was introduced this year for the North Sea and the Baltic Sea limiting the sulphate content in fuel to 0.1%, the positive effects are still to be estimated, he said vouching for stricter legislation.
“It is especially important to continue to set stricter caps on nitrogen oxides and sulphate content from ship fuel,” he warned. Future regulations should reduce the emissions of harmful nanoparticles, especially soot particles, which are considered the most hazardous, he added.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that Carbon dioxide emissions from shipping were equal to 2.7% of the global human-made emissions as of 2007 and estimates it to rise by as much as 2 to 3 times by 2050 if no action is taken. Currently, there are now over 100,000 transport ships at sea, of which about 6,000 are large container ships reaching several coasts year-long.