Children near ports may suffer lung damage from ships burning fuel oil

Image: Nickel and vanadium, metals released by burning fuel oil may be damaging to developing lungs of children. Source: American Thoracic Society

Researchers at the University of Southern California presented a study this week concluding that the metals nickel and vanadium, emitted by ships burning fuel oil, may be damaging the lungs of children.

Robert Urman, PhD, of the University of Southern California, and his co-authors examined health records of 1,911 elementary school-aged children from 8 Southern California communities who were part of the Children’s Health Study. “Each community varied in concentrations of specific air pollutants including metals,” said Dr. Urman. “Some of the highest levels of nickel and vanadium were found in Long Beach, where significant port activity exists. Examining the differences in health of children across these communities allowed us to identify the effects of these metals. When we analyzed the data, we found that teenaged children in the most polluted communities had an estimated decrease of approximately four percent in their lung function compared to similar children in the least polluted communities.”

For more information, see


Metals released  fuel oil may damage children’s developing lungs, American Thoracic Society (Press release and abstract)


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