Emission characteristics of naphthalene from ship exhausts under global sulfur cap

Sci Total Environ. 2023 Aug 8;902:166172. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.166172. Online ahead of print.


The global sulfur limit regulation mandates the use of 0.5 % low sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) to reduce emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM). However, the addition of naphthalene (Nap) to LSFO to stabilize its quality has led to an increase in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), with Nap being the main pollutant. This study investigates the effects of Nap in ship exhaust by analyzing the emission concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and Nap in the exhaust of 16 ships, including 2 container ships, 6 bulk carriers, 1 tanker, 2 ferries, 3 fishing vessels, and 2 harbor crafts, based on USEPA method TO-15A. The results show that the percentage of Nap emissions in the exhaust gases of the 16 ship engines ranged from 77 % to 97 % of the total volatile organic compound (TVOC). The Nap concentration in the exhaust of fishing vessels, tanker, and harbor craft exceeded the occupational exposure limit of 50,000 μg/m3, with fishing vessels having the highest TVOC and Nap concentrations. The enhanced Nap emission in the air degrades air quality in port cities and poses an obvious potential public health risk. While the benefits of the global sulfur cap are being secured, additional efforts should be made to reduce the undetected side effects. Alternative stabilizers of LSFO should be considered, or Nap emission control should be boosted to mitigate the potential negative impact on harbor air quality.

Keywords: Harbor air quality; IMO sulfur cap; Low sulfur fuel oil (LSFO); Naphthalene; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); Ship emission.