Ship Emissions stress Lung Cells

Source: Paul Vinten/ Fotolia

Emissions from ship fuels have massive impact on lung cells – these results were published by scientists of HICE in the journal PLOS one. Both Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) and Diesel have similar strong effect on the cells. This is especially interesting as the diesel is seen by regulation authorities as the “cleaner” fuel. Ships have to use it in areas close to harbors, while the use of HFO is only allowed on the open sea.

„Surprisingly the cells reacted stronger towards the Diesel, that contains more soot but less toxic compounds than the Heavy Fuel Oil”, says Dr. Sebastian Öder, first author of the paper. The Diesel emissions affected essential cellular pathways such as energy metabolism, protein synthesis and chromatin modification. The biological response of the cells was all in all broader than the response on the Heavy Fuel Oil. The reactions to HFO emissions were dominated by oxidative stress and inflammatory responses. The HFO emissions contained high concentrations of toxic compounds such as metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, and were higher in particle mass. These compounds were lower in the Diesel emissions, which in turn had higher concentrations of elemental carbon (“soot”). Common cellular reactions included cellular stress responses and endocytosis.

“We highly recommend to reduce the emissions from ships by installing exhaust filters like it is common for road traffic”, says Prof. Dr. Ralf Zimmermann, the speaker of HICE. “To replace Heavy Fuel Oil with Diesel is with regard to our results not an adequate method to reduce the health effects from ship emissions.” In future studies the scientists want to focus on the role of the soot and on emissions of Marine Gas Oil.

Link zur Publikation:

Link zur Pressemitteilung: