Cruise ships in Palma. | Gabriel Alomar

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Local environment groups - GOB, Amics de la Terra and Terraferida - have been joined by the German organisation NABU in a campaign for cleaner cruise ships.

NABU (Naturschuztbund - Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union) has two members who are measuring pollution levels at the port in Palma. First thing yesterday morning, Daniel Rieger and Axel Friedrich measured 1,500 contaminating particles. After the arrival of four ships, the concentration of particles was 70,000. Rieger said that the contamination occurs because of the use of poor quality and cheap fuel. Boats are also not using filters, which would reduce 99% of polluting particulates.

NABU says that these particles are ultra fine and are not detected by natural body filters and so can lodge in the lungs and bloodstream. They can cause heart disease, cancer, diabetes and miscarriages.

The environmental groups stress that Palma is a city with one of the highest concentrations of cruise ships in the world. It is therefore one of the most contaminated. The NABU members, who are measuring contaminants in different places in the Mediterranean, say that Palma has the same level of pollution as Barcelona, Dubrovnik and Venice.