Pollution levels on cruise ship decks worse than world’s most polluted cities

04 Jul 2017


Levels of pollution on decks of cruise ships are found to be worse than in the world's most polluted cities, an investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches revealed.

The undercover investigation on the UK's biggest crew operator P&O Cruises aimed to find out how clean was the air holidaymakers breathed, when on a ship.

It looked at levels of "ultra-fine particles" found in the air and around the cruise ship and emitted from the fuel the ships' engines burned.

The investigation found that even as passengers looked to get away from the dirty air of cities and take in some fresh sea air, cruise ships had a negative impact on the environment. One cruise ship could emit the same amount of particulate matter as a million cars in a day.

But the popularity of cruise ships was rising with around two million people from the UK travelling on one every year.

The team used P-Trak ultra-fine particle counter, with which Dispatches was able to measure the levels of the ultra-fine particulates on board the P&O Cruises' ship Oceana, which could carry over 2,000 passengers.

The device revealed that the air on the deck downwind of, and directly next to the ship's funnels, had 84,000 ultra-fine particulates per cubic centimetre.

Dr Matthew Loxham, a specialist in air pollution at the University of Southampton, who spoke to The Guardian, said these were the levels of pollution one could expect to find in cities such as Delhi or Shanghai.

He added there was cause for concern over the health risks, from such levels of pollution.

"One cruise ship emits as much particulates as a million cars, so 30 ships pollute as much as all the cars in the UK," said Dr Loxham.

 ''From a scientific point of view, we know that pollution causes adverse health effects even in the short term,'' he said. ''On a ship deck, you're exposed to higher levels of pollution so you may get symptons such as runny nose, cough, dry eyes or a higher risk of asthma attacks. For those that are pre-disposed, there may be a higher risk of stroke or heart attack.''

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