WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Washington, seeking to cut air pollution from ships, wants an emission control area in U.S. waters near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the EPA announced.
"The sulfur, soot and other harmful air pollutants from large ships reach from ports to inland communities," said Judith Enck, the Environmental Protection Agency's administrator for the area, in a statement. "The designation will result in cleaner air for residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and the millions of tourists who visit these beautiful islands."
The designation calls on tankers, container vessels, cruise ships and other large vessel to use cleaner fuel or install pollution control technology.
Sulfur dioxide emission from ships will be down 96 percent, fine particles by 86 percent and nitrogen oxide by 30 percent by 2020 under the proposals, the EPA estimates.
Exposure to those air pollutants is associated with respiratory ailments like asthma. The EPA said asthma-related deaths in Puerto Rico are 2.5 times greater than in the continental United States.
Ships built after January 2016 are called on to enact tighter nitrogen oxides standards to operate in Caribbean waters, the EPA said.
The area under consideration includes waters adjacent to the coasts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.