New Measures to Protect Public Health from Global Shipping Air Pollution

(March 26, 2010)

The American Lung Association applauds the United Nations' International Maritime Organization for officially designating waters off the North American coasts as an Emission Control Area, as the U.S. had requested.  Now, foreign-flagged vessels that sail within 200 nautical miles of the U.S. coast, or dock at U.S. ports, will be required to use dramatically cleaner fuel and emissions control technology.  This action will lead to major air quality and health benefits for the millions of Americans who live near major seaports and breathe some of the nation's most dirtiest and dangerous air.  In addition, air quality will also improve hundreds of miles inland. 

We thank U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson for her commitment to cleaning up ocean going vessels and her leadership to ensure that the proposal was enacted.  The Lung Association has strongly advocated for international action to address this major source of air pollution and EPA's comprehensive approach to cleaning up ships.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the Emissions Control Area in place around North America will prevent as many as 14,000 premature deaths.  In addition, the reduced pollution will prevent 3,800 emergency room visits each year in the U.S. and Canada.  In total, there will be more than $34 in health benefits for every $1 in implementation cost.