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Cleaner Ship Fuel Improves San Diego Air Quality

Audio

Aired 5/18/11

California now requires ships to use cleaner fuels when the vessels are in state coastal waters.

The cleaner fuels mean a reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions along our coast.

A cruise ship is moored at the North Embarcadero in San Diego.
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Above: A cruise ship is moored at the North Embarcadero in San Diego.

"That's important to San Diego because about half of our sulfur dioxide pollution is accounted for by ships on some days," said Debra Kelley with the San Diego Chapter of the American Lung Association.

Kelley said diesel pollution from ships, trucks and heavy equipment is a lethal threat, killing thousands of Californians each year.

She said the ships spew out tons of fine particulate matter which is particularly harmful.

"Because it can get deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream it can cause people to suffer heart attacks and it causes lung cancer and exacerbates other forms of lung disease," said Kelley.

She said on some days ships account for half of the fine-sulfur-related particulate pollution off San Diego's coast.

"So it's extremely dangerous and our clean fuel regulations have been extremely effective at reducing these emissions," Kelley said.

She said the young, elderly and people with lung or heart disease are especially vulnerable to air pollution, which adds up to about half of all San Diegans.

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