A study conducted by Germany’s Helmholtz Zentrum München and University of Rostock found that ship emissions adversely affect the health of inhabitants of coastal regions.
Since macrophages also play a key role in lung diseases such as COPD, the study is important for understanding the health risks of ship exhausts, says Science Daily.
"Macrophages are known as scavenger cells of the immune system and respond more sensitively to particulate matter in the lungs than lung epithelial cells, since they are the 'first line of response' against foreign invaders in the lungs such as germs or even fine dust particles," said Sean Sapcariu, first author of the study and doctoral student at the University of Luxembourg, a cooperation partner in Helmholtz Virtual Institute of Complex Molecular Systems in Environmental Health (HICE).
"We found that the ship emissions of heavy fuel oil and diesel fuel had different effects on triggering pro-inflammatory reactions,"said Sapcariu.
Fine particles from heavy fuel oil emissions have a stronger effect on the development of pro-inflammatory reactions than particles emitted from diesel ship engines, but the latter more strongly influence other fundamental biological processes such as DNA-, RNA- and protein-synthesis.
"We then found that the emitted particles both from the heavy fuel oil and from the diesel exhaust had similarly high toxic effects on the macrophages. Surprisingly, the toxic effects leading to cell death are even slightly lower in the heavy fuel oil emissions, although the concentrations of known toxic pollutants in the heavy oil emissions are much higher," Zimmermann added.