EU sulphur rule has improved air quality

Sulphur dioxide emissions from shipping have sharply decreased in EU ports thanks to an EU policy which limits sulphur content in fuels for ships at berth or at anchor in ports. Scientists at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre measured key air quality parameters in Mediterranean harbours before and after the entry into force of the low-sulphur requirements in January 2010.

In European harbours they found an average decrease of 66 per cent in concentrations of sulphur dioxide (SO2), a pollutant that poses risks to health and the environment. Measurements taken in a non-EU port showed that levels of SO2 remained the same.

From January 2010, all ships berthed or anchored in EU harbours have had to use fuels with a sulphur content of less than 0.1 per cent, while previously a sulphur content of up to 4.5 per cent was allowed.

Source: JRC news release, 14 August 2012 

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