Posted on 02/11/2017 | About Barcelona, Spain

NABU (Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union) is a German environmental agency that has warned about air pollutants on passenger cruise ships. They have recently analyzed the findings of a French documentary television series and determined that the air quality on cruise ships reached harmful levels.

The French documentary series Thalassa sent a journalist on a European cruise ship to measure the concentration of harmful particles in the air as a cruise ship leaves the port.
The results were that the levels were 200 times higher than in a natural fresh air environment and 20 times worse than in a busy city centre of some port cities, such as Venice, Marseille, Hamburg and Barcelona.
Samples were taken at a number of areas of the ship and one 50 minute reading determined that the sun deck and jogging lane on the top deck were found to be the most affected by pollutants.
Daniel Rieger, a transport policy officer and researcher for NABU who analyzed the data told Telegraph Travel “this can vary along with the wind and weather conditions. So potentially every part of the ship can be affected significantly.”
Rieger said that the results prompted the German Lung Association and the Pneumologists Association to warn passengers that staying on deck or inhaling ships' exhaust gases could cause acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) if you suffer from lung diseases.
“Moreover they warn that ultra-fine particles are very dangerous, lead to lung diseases, heart attacks, strokes and are also linked to diabetes and cause deterioration for asthma and COPD patients,” he added.
In 2012 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) part of WHO classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans based on sufficient evidence that exposure is associated with an increased risk for lung cancer.
“They could have done the air tests on almost any cruise ship in the world while the results would have been the same. This is due to low quality fuels (mainly heavy fuel oil - HFO) and the fact that none of the ships has a particulate filter. And as a consequence air pollutant emissions are massive,” he told Telegraph Travel.
Helge Grammerstorf is the German national director of the CLIA. He said that more systematic test over a longer period of time is required. “We don’t know these measurements. The claim is completely unsubstantiated,” he told Hamburger Abendblatt, a German daily newspaper.
CLIA Europe's director of public affairs, Martyn Griffiths questioned the content of the particles found, suggesting that they could include sea salt.
"When the actual content of particles is not specified, it is not possible to compare air quality to other cases on land which have very different circumstances and no analysis of their breakdown for comparison," he said.
Griffiths said that Europe already has 75 cruise ships equipped with emission reducing technologies, including 23 soot particle filters and he expects more ships will be fitted with this technology in the future," he told Telegraph Travel.
Systems that reduce particle and nitrogen oxide emissions have been available on the market for years, but require more expensive types of fuel to operate, the NABU suggested, saying they will be conducting further tests in the future.
Last December, Princess Cruises, was ordered to pay a $40 million fine for illegally dumping thousands of gallons of oil and waste off the UK coast.
Parent company Carnival has also agreed to submit 78 cruise ships to a five-year environmental compliance programme as part of the plea agreement.