Ships run on residual oil, which has sulfur content thousands of times greater than on-road diesel fuel. Residual oil is a byproduct of the refinery process and tends to be much dirtier than other petroleum products, Winebrake says.
We needed to know what the benefits are of cleaning up this fuel, he explains. Now we can evaluate the human health impacts of policies to require low-sulfur fuels for the shipping industry or that require ships to put emissions control technology on their vessels. Our study will help inform this policy debate.
Up until recently, researchers had little information with which to work; emissions data for marine vessels had to be linked with data tracking the movement of these vessels around the world. In their report, Corbett and Winebrake mapped marine pollution concentrations over the oceans and on land, estimating global and regional mortalities from ship emissions by integrating global ship inventories, atmospheric models and health impacts analyses.
The focus on long-term exposure to particulate matter in this study does not extend to impacts on children or other related health issues such as respiratory disease, asthma, hospital emissions and the economic impact of missed workdays and lost productivity.
Our work will help people decide at what scale action should be taken, says Corbett, associate professor of marine policy at University of Delaware. We want our analysis to enable richer dialogue among stakeholders about how to improve the environment and economic performance of our freight systems.
|Contact: Susan Gawlowicz|
Rochester Institute of Technology