A cruise ship by the island of Santorini (file image/pixabay)
Environmentalists are keeping their spotlight firmly trained on the negative effect of shipping emissions in Mediterranean ports.
Zeroing in on a well-known Greek tourist destination, Nature and Biodiversity Union (NABU) and the Hellenic Ornithological Society said that air samples taken next to cruise ships on the Greek island of Santorini had uncovered high concentrations of ultrafine particles.
"We found concentrations of over 340.000 particles per cubic centimetre," said NABU's Dr Axel Friedrich
In contrast, a very busy street would between 20.000 to 30.000 particles, Friedrich said.
Friedrich took the measurements on September 18 and 19 when different ferries and cruise ships were visiting the island.
In April, the scientist exposed high levels of pollution from similar sources at Gibraltar in the west Mediterranean.
At a conference held in Paris in May, Friedrich urged the governments of the Mediterranean's littoral states to impose an emissions control area over the region.
The health impact of ultrafine particles is a serious one.
"Globally, almost six in ten deaths related to outdoor air pollution are caused by a heart attack or stroke," said Philippa Hobson, senior cardiac nurse at the UK charity, the British Heart Foundation.
"Our research shows that even short term exposure to air pollution - just one or two hours - can have a lasting, negative impact on the heart and circulation," she added.