Shipping Sickness

The enormous traffic in imported goods is generating a huge amount of disease-causing pollution in and around ports, and along trade routes.
September 6, 2008, 11am PDT | Michael Dudley
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"In and near the world's ports and coastal sea lanes, emissions from oceangoing vessels caused 60,000 premature deaths in 2002. With increasing trade, the number of such deaths is projected to rise 40 percent by 2012. Ships' crews, dock workers, truckers, other port personnel and local residents are all vulnerable.

The particulate matter produced by burning diesel has been associated with lung cancer, asthma, chronic bronchitis, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, decreased lung function in children and infant mortality.

The sheer volume of imports, growing by the day, threatens to overwhelm all attempts to clean up the environment along trade routes. The value of goods being imported nationwide has risen 68 percent just in the past decade; that's after adjustments for inflation, and it excludes oil imports.

All that activity, both inbound and outbound, generates profits along with pollution. As a consequence, no one on either side of the battle over pollution control around ports, roads and railways seems to be urging a rollback of imports."

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Published on Friday, September 5, 2008 in AlterNet
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