Protecting American Health from Global Shipping Pollution
“Emission Control Area” Means Healthier Air for Millions of Americans
The coalition strongly encourages and supports action by the U.S. government that to apply to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for the establishment of an Emission Control Area: an area where rigorous pollution limits apply to global shipping activity. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
Statement of Captain
An Emission Control Area, or ECA, would provide the strongest clean air standards available under international law. It would dramatically improve fuel quality and reduce smog-forming oxides of nitrogen for all ocean-going ships in the exclusive economic zone of
Container ships, tankers and the other large sea-going vessels that dock at more than 100 U.S. port cities burn low grade “residual fuel” or “bunker fuel” that is a major source of air pollution, including the formation of particulate pollution. Residual fuel contains sulfur levels 1,800 times greater than U.S. law allows for other diesel engines. A recent study by two leading researchers on shipping pollution, Corbett and Winebrake, shows shipping-related particulate pollution contributes to approximately 60,000 global deaths annually, with impacts concentrated in coastal regions on major trade routes.
Within an ECA, ships must also achieve an 80 percent reduction in smog-forming oxides of nitrogen starting in 2016.
EPA air quality analyses shows the pollution reductions required in an ECA will reduce exposure to lethal particulate pollution for millions of Americans.
Ocean-going ships contribute to unhealthy air quality across
- 745,000 tons of smog-forming oxides of nitrogen, a precursor to ground-level ozone. Ozone can aggravate asthma and decrease lung function in addition to other health effects;
- 450,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, a key contributor to acid rain that can also be transformed into lethal particulate matter; and
- 54,000 tons of fine particulates, microscopic sized particles, which can be breathed deep into the lungs, bypassing the body’s defense systems. They are implicated in thousands of premature deaths each year. Other harmful health effects also result from breathing fine particulates.
Ocean-going ships are also responsible for about 3 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution.
American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information, visit www.lungusa.org.
Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 500,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense Fund has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. For more information, visit www.edf.org.
National Association of Clean Air Agencies comprises the air pollution control agencies in 53 states and territories and over 165 metropolitan areas across the country. NACAA’s members have primary responsibility for ensuring that everyone in our nation breathes clean, healthful air. For more information, visit www.4cleanair.org.
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is the regional air quality agency for the area including the major container ports of
SOURCE Environmental Defense Fund