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          Clear The Air Ships Air Pollution Blog Rotating Header Image

          April, 2009:

          Air Pollution Endangers Lives of Six in 10 Americans

          WASHINGTON, DC, April 29, 2009 (ENS)

          Six out of every 10 Americans – 186.1 million people – live in areas where air pollution endangers lives, according to the 10th annual American Lung Association State of the Air report released today.

          Some of the biggest sources of air pollution – dirty power plants, dirty diesel engines and ocean-going vessels – also worsen global warming, the Lung Association says in State of the Air 2009.

          As America deals with the linked challenges of air pollution, global warming and energy, the Lung Association urges Congress, the U.S. EPA and individuals to choose solutions that help solve all three challenges together.

          Nearly every major American city is still burdened by air pollution, and the air in many cities became dirtier since last year, the report finds, despite “substantial progress” made against air pollution in many areas of the country and more attention paid to the environment by America’s growing green movement.

          “This should be a wakeup call. We know that air pollution is a major threat to human health,” said Stephen Nolan, American Lung Association National Board Chair. “When 60 percent of Americans are left breathing air dirty enough to send people to the emergency room, to shape how kids’ lungs develop, and to kill, air pollution remains a serious problem.”

          State of the Air 2009 includes a national air quality report card that assigns A-F grades to communities across the country and details trends for 900 counties over the past decade.

          The report ranks cities and counties most affected by the three most widespread types of pollution – ozone, or smog; annual particle pollution; and 24-hour particle pollution levels.

          The report finds that air pollution hovers at unhealthy levels in almost every major city, threatening people’s ability to breathe and placing lives at risk.

          “The more we learn, the more urgent it becomes for us to take decisive action to make our air healthier,” said Nolan.

          Many cities, like Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Baltimore have made improvements in their air quality over the past decade.

          Only one city, Fargo, North Dakota, ranked among the cleanest in all three air pollution categories.

          Seventeen cities appeared on two of the three lists of cleanest cities: Billings, Montana; Bismarck and Sioux Falls, North Dakota; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins, and Pueblo, Colorado; Farmington and Santa Fe-Espanola, New Mexico; Honolulu, Hawaii; Lincoln, Nebraska; Midland-Odessa, Texas; Port St. Lucie, Florida; Redding, Salinas, and San Luis Obispo, California; and Tucson, Arizona.

          The three cities most polluted by ozone are all in California – the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside metropolitan area; Bakersfield, a center of agriculture, petroleum extraction and refining, and manufacturing in the San Joaquin Valley; and Visalia-Porterville, a San Joaquin Valley agricultural community.

          Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pennsylvania tops the list of cities most polluted by 24 hour fine particle pollution, while the three California cities that top the most polluted ozone list are close behind in this category and also for year-round particle pollution.

          Ozone

          In March 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted a new, tighter standard for ozone pollution. The new standard showed that unhealthy ozone levels are more widespread and more severe than previously recognized.

          Evaluating the most recent data against the new standard, the American Lung Association found that approximately 175.4 million Americans – 58 percent – live in counties where ozone monitors recorded too many days with unhealthy ozone levels, far more than the 92.5 million identified in the State of the Air 2008 report.

          Sixteen cities making this year’s 25 most ozone-polluted list experienced worse smog problems than last year.

          The Lung Association’s review found consistent improvements in ozone in some cities, such as Los Angeles, with its long-standing ozone problem.

          But two cities, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Las Vegas, have higher ozone levels than 10 years ago.

          Ozone is the most widespread form of air pollution. When inhaled, ozone irritates the lungs, resulting in something like a bad sunburn. The health effects of breathing ozone pollution can be immediate. Ozone can cause wheezing, coughing and asthma attacks. Breathing ozone pollution can even shorten lives.

          “More than 175 million Americans live in areas with unhealthy smog levels – that’s 80 million more than we identified in last year’s report,” said Charles Connor, American Lung Association president and chief executive. “We at the American Lung Association believe that the new ozone standard is not yet strong enough to protect human health – an opinion nearly all scientific experts share.”

          In March 2008, the EPA adopted a standard of .075 parts per million, ppm, after legal action by the American Lung Association forced the agency to complete a formal review. This standard is not as strict as the standard of .060 ppm recommended by the Lung Association.

          The association, along with states, public health and environmental groups, has taken the EPA back to court in an attempt to force the agency to adopt the .060 ppm standard before its scheduled five-year review in 2013.

          Particle Pollution

          State of the Air 2009 grades counties for both 24-hour and year-round levels of particle pollution – a toxic mix of microscopic soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols.

          “It is the most dangerous and deadly of the outdoor air pollutants that are widespread in America,” the Lung Association says in its report, warning that “breathing in particle pollution can increase the risk of early death, heart attacks, strokes and emergency room visits for asthma and cardiovascular disease.”

          One in six people in the United States lives in an area with unhealthy year-round levels of fine particle pollution (termed annual average levels).

          Nine cities in the list of the 25 most polluted by year-round particle pollution showed measurable improvement, including five cities that reported their best year-round levels since the Lung Association began tracking this pollutant: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Atlanta, York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

          The annual average level of particle pollution worsened in a dozen cities, including Bakersfield and Los Angeles, California and Houston, Texas.

          Roughly three in 10 Americans live in counties with unhealthful spikes of particle pollution which can last from hours to days (termed 24-hour levels).

          Thirteen cities had more days, or more severe days, of spikes than in last year’s report. Eleven cities have improved continually since the 2007 report.

          New data show that women in their 50’s may be particularly threatened by air pollution and that diesel truck drivers and dockworkers who are forced to breathe exhaust on the job may face a greater risk of developing lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

          California researchers have tripled their estimate of the number of people that particle pollution kills each year in their state.

          “The science is rock-solid. We now know that air pollution can impair the lung function of even the healthiest people,” said Norman Edelman, MD, American Lung Association chief medical officer. “Air pollution worsens asthma and is a direct cause of heart attacks, which makes people living with lung and heart disease especially vulnerable.”

          Dr. Edelman suggests that people living in areas of high particle pollution “must recognize that this is the fact of their lives, and they must be more careful about other life factors – stop smoking, eat well, exercise.”

          In addition, Dr. Edelman suggests, people who live with particle pollution “must take action help us and other organizations to change the EPA regulations. It’s personal, it’s affecting them and their neighbors.” In addition, he said, they can take local political action to change regulations such as engine idling, and clean up diesel-powered school buses.

          Low income people and some racial and ethnic groups often face greater risk from pollutants. Pollution sources like factories and power plants may be closer to their homes, the Lung Association points out. Many live near areas with heavy highway traffic or have poor access to health care, which makes them even more vulnerable. Some racial and ethnic groups have a higher prevalence of diseases like asthma or diabetes, which compounds the ill effects of air pollution for these groups.

          “We need to renew our commitment to providing healthy air for all our citizens – a commitment the United States made almost 40 years ago when Congress passed the Clean Air Act,” Connor said. “After four decades, we still have much work to do.”

          “America needs to cut emissions from big polluters like coal-fired power plants and ocean-going vessels,” Connor said. “We need to fix old dirty diesel engines to make them cleaner and strengthen the ozone standards to better protect our health. We also need to improve the decaying infrastructure of air monitors. America must now enforce the laws that help us improve our nation’s air quality.”

          CLEANEST U.S. CITIES

          Cleanest U.S. Cities for Ozone Air Pollution *Cities below had equal scores.

          • Billings, Montana
          • Carson City, Nevada
          • Coeur D’Alene, Idaho
          • Fargo-Wahpeton, North Dakota-Minnesota
          • Honolulu, Hawaii
          • Laredo, Texas
          • Lincoln, Nebraska
          • Port St. Lucie-Sebastian-Vero Beach, Florida
          • Sioux Falls, South Dakota

          Cleanest U.S. Cities for Short-term Particle Pollution (24 Hour PM2.5) *Cities below had equal scores.

          • Alexandria, Louisiana
          • Amarillo, Texas
          • Austin-Round Rock, Texas
          • Bismarck, North Dakota
          • Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, Texas
          • Cheyenne, Wyoming
          • Colorado Springs, Colorado
          • Corpus Christi-Kingsville, Texas
          • Fargo-Wahpeton, North Dakota-Minnesota
          • Farmington, New Mexico
          • Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado
          • Grand Junction, Colorado
          • Longview-Marshall, Texas
          • Midland-Odessa, Texas
          • Oklahoma City-Shawnee, Oklahoma
          • Portland-Lewiston-South Portland, Maine
          • Pueblo, Colorado
          • Redding, California
          • Salinas, California
          • San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, California
          • Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, California
          • Santa Fe-Espanola, New Mexico
          • Sioux Falls, South Dakota
          • Tucson, Arizona

          10 Cleanest U.S. Cities for Long-term Particle Pollution (Annual PM2.5)

          • Cheyenne, Wyoming
          • Santa Fe-Espanola, New Mexico
          • Honolulu, Hawaii
          • Great Falls, Montana (tied for 4th)
          • Flagstaff, Arizona (tied for 4th)
          • Farmington, New Mexico (tied for 6th)
          • Anchorage, Alaska (tied for 6th)
          • Tucson, Arizona
          • Bismarck, North Dakota (tied for 9th)
          • Salinas, California (tied for 9th)

          MOST POLLUTED U.S. CITIES
          10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Ozone

          • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, California
          • Bakersfield, California
          • Visalia-Porterville, California
          • Fresno-Madera, California
          • Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, Texas
          • Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, California-Nevada
          • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
          • Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, N.C.-S.C.
          • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona
          • El Centro, California

          10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-term Particle Pollution (24 Hour PM2.5)

          • Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pennsylvania
          • Fresno-Madera, California
          • Bakersfield, California
          • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, California
          • Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, Alabama
          • Salt Lake City-Ogden-Clearfield, Utah
          • Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, California-Nevada
          • Logan, Utah
          • Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City, Illinois-Indiana-Wisconsin (tied for 9th)
          • Detroit-Warren-Flint, Michigan (tied for 9th)

          10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution (Annual PM2.5)

          • Bakersfield, California
          • Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pennsylvania
          • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, California
          • Visalia-Porterville, California
          • Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, Alabama
          • Hanford-Corcoran, California
          • Fresno-Madera, California
          • Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana
          • Detroit-Warren-Flint, Michigan
          • Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, Ohio

          Visit www.lungusa.org to search local air quality grades by zip code.

          Zim Shows Off Environmentally Friendly Ship

          The Chronicle Herald.ca By TOM PETERS Business Reporter – 9 Apr 2009

          The world’s shipping lines are under international pressure to help protect the oceans from pollution. Zim Container Line is one of several major carriers that is taking the challenge seriously.

          Zim, a customer at the Port of Halifax since 1972, bought one of its newest vessels into Halifax on Wednesday as part of the inauguration of its service from Asia to the Mediterranean.

          Zim San Francisco, a Panamax container ship with a capacity of slightly under 5,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) and only two months out of the Daewoo Shipyard in South Korea, leaves little evidence of pollution in its wake.

          “Our company sets environmental standards,” the ship’s chief officer, Timo Kopf, 28, said Wednesday.

          “We don’t throw any garbage overboard when at sea, except food waste, which first goes through a grinder.”

          The ship, owned by the CONTI Group of Germany and chartered by Zim, has an incinerator on board and what garbage can’t be burned, like tin cans, is bagged and discharged when the vessel reaches port.

          The ship also has a bilge water separator that separates any waste oil from waste water that might be discharged into the ocean.

          “We also have sludge tanks and discharge that material to contracted companies when we get to port,” he said.

          Chief Officer Kopf said Zim follows international standards and has its own environmental targets for food waste disposal.

          Zim San Francisco is one of 15 vessels in the Asia-Mediterranean service that calls at Halterm container terminal twice a week. The port rotation is Skekou, China; Hong Kong; Ningbo, China; Shanghai; Pusan, South Korea; Balboa, Spain; Panama Canal, Kingston, Jamaica; Savannah, Ga.; New York; Halifax; Tarragona, Spain; and Haifa, Israel.

          The German-flagged vessel, with a crew of 21, burns about 110 tonnes of fuel a day at minimum speed and up to 115 tonnes at maximum speed. The ship can stay at sea for more than three weeks before refuelling.

          ( tpeters@herald.ca)

          Health risks of shipping pollution have been ‘underestimated’

          http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/apr/09/shipping-pollution

          One giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50m cars, study finds

          Britain and other European governments have been accused of underestimating the health risks from shipping pollution following research which shows that one giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50m cars.

          Confidential data from maritime industry insiders based on engine size and the quality of fuel typically used by ships and cars shows that just 15 of the world’s biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world’s 760m cars. Low-grade ship bunker fuel (or fuel oil) has up to 2,000 times the sulphur content of diesel fuel used in US and European automobiles.

          Pressure is mounting on the UN’s International Maritime Organisation and the EU to tighten laws governing ship emissions following the decision by the US government last week to impose a strict 230-mile buffer zone along the entire US coast, a move that is expected to be followed by Canada.

          The setting up of a low emission shipping zone follows US academic research which showed that pollution from the world’s 90,000 cargo ships leads to 60,000 deaths a year and costs up to $330bn per year in health costs from lung and heart diseases. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates the buffer zone, which could be in place by next year, will save more than 8,000 lives a year with new air quality standards cutting sulphur in fuel by 98%, particulate matter by 85% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%.

          The new study by the Danish government’s environmental agency adds to this picture. It suggests that shipping emissions cost the Danish health service almost £5bn a year, mainly treating cancers and heart problems. A previous study estimated that 1,000 Danish people die prematurely each year because of shipping pollution. No comprehensive research has been carried out on the effects on UK coastal communities, but the number of deaths is expected to be much higher.

          Europe, which has some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, has dramatically cleaned up sulphur and nitrogen emissions from land-based transport in the past 20 years but has resisted imposing tight laws on the shipping industry, even though the technology exists to remove emissions. Cars driving 15,000km a year emit approximately 101 grammes of sulphur oxide gases (or SOx) in that time. The world’s largest ships’ diesel engines which typically operate for about 280 days a year generate roughly 5,200 tonnes of SOx.

          The EU plans only two low-emission marine zones which should come into force in the English channel and Baltic sea after 2015. However, both are less stringent than the proposed US zone, and neither seeks to limit deadly particulate emissions.

          Shipping emissions have escalated in the past 15 years as China has emerged as the world’s manufacturing capital. A new breed of intercontinental container ship has been developed which is extremely cost-efficient. However, it uses diesel engines as powerful as land-based power stations but with the lowest quality fuel.

          “Ship pollution affects the health of communities in coastal and inland regions around the world, yet pollution from ships remains one of the least regulated parts of our global transportation system,” said James Corbett, professor of marine policy at the University of Delaware, one of the authors of the report which helped persuade the US government to act.

          Today a spokesman for the UK government’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency accepted there were major gaps in the legislation. “Issues of particulate matter remain a concern. They need to be addressed and we look forward to working with the international community,” said environment policy director Jonathan Simpson.

          “Europe needs a low emission zone right around its coasts, similar to the US, if we are to meet health and environmental objectives,” said Crister Agrena of the Air Pollution and Climate Secretariat in Gothenburg, one of Europe’s leading air quality organisations.

          “It is unacceptable that shipping remains one of the most polluting industries in the world. The UK must take a lead in cleaning up emissions,” said Simon Birkett, spokesman for the Campaign for Clean Air in London. “Other countries are planning radical action to achieve massive health and other savings but the UK is strangely inactive.”

          The calculations of ship and car pollution are based on the world’s largest 85,790KW ships’ diesel engines which operate about 280 days a year generating roughly 5,200 tonnes of SOx a year, compared with diesel and petrol cars which drive 15,000km a year and emit approximately 101gm of SO2/SoX a year.

          Shipping by numbers
          The world’s biggest container ships have 109,000 horsepower engines which weigh 2,300 tons.

          Each ship expects to operate 24hrs a day for about 280 days a year

          There are 90,000 ocean-going cargo ships

          Shipping is responsible for 18-30% of all the world’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution and 9% of the global sulphur oxide (SOx) pollution.

          One large ship can generate about 5,000 tonnes of sulphur oxide (SOx) pollution in a year

          70% of all ship emissions are within 400km of land.

          85% of all ship pollution is in the northern hemisphere.

          Shipping is responsible for 3.5% to 4% of all climate change emissions

          ? This article was amended on 25 August 2015 to correct the number of deaths per year attributed to pollution from the world’s 90,000 cargo ships.

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