The cruise industry is booming, with average annual passenger growth of over seven percent. It keeps ordering new and ever bigger ships. However, everything has its hazards, and one of the hazards on a cruise ship is the exhaust fumes. Be careful to avoid them. 

Diesel exhaust fumes are toxic. So be aware of where the smoke is going and avoid any part of the ship where you would get direct exposure. If the wind shifts and the fumes come your way, get up and move. It is already well known that chronic exposure to diesel exhaust increases the risk of cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary and respiratory disease and lung cancer. Particle emissions from diesel exhaust adversely affect human lung cells, causing strong biological responses, triggering inflammatory processes, resulting in lung diseases. New information in a 2016 study in the journal PLOS ONE has found that ship engine emissions also adversely affect macrophages and immunity.

Macrophages are critical to healthy immune function. They are a type of white blood cell that engulfs and digests cellular debris, foreign substances, microbes, cancer cells, and anything else that lacks the types of proteins specific to healthy body cells on its surface. Particles from ship engines interacting with macrophages not only cause inflammatory reactions and depressed immunity, but they also affect fundamental biological processes such as DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis. This is all serious stuff. So enjoy your cruise, but remember, don’t breathe the exhaust.