It’s Hard to Overstate Just How Much Pollution Cruise Ships Generate

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A new investigation, conducted by Britain’s Channel 4 Dispatches, has concluded that cruise ships generate a massive amount of pollution.

(Photo courtesy Daily Mail)

The investigation, which focused on so-called ultra-fine particles of pollution, was secretly conducted aboard a cruise ship operated by P&O Cruises, Britain’s largest cruise operator. The result: cruise ships may emit a level of pollution which is equivalent to that produced by a million automobiles.

According to an article about the study on the website Independent.co.uk, the study made use of a fine particle counter, and detected the particles at a concentration of 84,000 ultra-fine particulates per cubic centimeter downwind from the ship’s funnels. The numbers recorded next to the funnels registered between 144,000 and 226,000.

The article quotes Dr. Matthew Loxham, who interpreted the results, saying "Short term exposure can cause increasing respiratory symptoms. People who are asthmatic for example, that might give them a wheeze. Similarly, for people with cardiovascular disease.” Dr. Loxham noted that crew members may begin to experience symptoms "that we are just starting to understand".

Over the past several years the cruise industry has come under increasing fire for its environmental effects. Citizens in localities such as Venice, Italy, Charleston, South Carolina, and even the Bahamas, have all protested planned cruise expansions. Additionally, major cruise operators have been fined by states such as Alaska for violating environmental ordinances.