Large ocean-going ships belong to the worst polluters. Their bunker fuel tends to be the world's dirtiest diesel that is much higher in Sulfur content and other toxic substances.
Diesel pollution is bad for health. It contains over 40 known cancer-causing organic substances and tiny solid particles in the air (Diesel Particulate Matter, DPM). Diesel exhaust causes eye and respiratory irritation, allergies, asthma, lung cancer, other cancers, and premature death from cardiovascular disease (1400 deaths per year estimated in California).
Even if cleaner maritime diesel can be enforced in the next decade, the shipping industry worldwide will still account for ~250k deaths and ~6.4 M childhood asthma cases annually, according to a 2018 report in the scientific journal Nature.
Diesel exhaust is falling on us and on our locally grown foods.
We can try to live a healthy lifestyle and try to make our island greener.
Think again. Once the freighters and tankers are coming, this amounts next to nothing. Each cargo ship alone means more pollution than many thousands of cars.
We need clean air.
The two anchorages at Captain's Passage just outside Ganges Harbour have to be deactivated again and left as they were before. The prevailing SE winds are driving the diesel exhaust towards Ganges and central Salt Spring Island, the most populated area in the islands.
We also have local winds. First they transport the exhaust up. Sometimes they spread it out along a higher air layer of different temperature. In the evening, the local wind reverses and transports the exhaust down to people again.
Residents in the Beddis area have reported waking up with breathing problems and smelling diesel fumes while ships were anchoring. Will the next anchorages be in your neighbourhood?
Diesel exhaust travels. Although you may not smell it, you may have it in your lungs. The solid fallout from diesel exhaust can be everywhere, including the locally grown food you eat and drink.
Part of these solid particles are carcinogens, and they are fat soluble rather than water soluble. This means they can easily be absorbed by humans. And it also means that they stick to vegetables, and they won't rinse off without effort and soap.
And what about the plans of our island relying more on drinking water collected from rain on our roofs?
Do you wish to keep Salt Spring Island a healthy place?
Next: Water Pollution
See Also: Salt Spring Island - Our Sense of Place at Risk