Tips: Boating Pollution Prevention

More than 10 million marine engines are operated in the United States. These marine engines are among the highest contributors of hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions in many areas of the country, according to EPA. The agency offers steps boaters can take to help prevent pollution from marine engines.

EPA set emission standards for commercial and recreational marine engines that went into effect in 1998. All engines will meet the standards by 2006, when the phased in implementation period is completed. To meet the standards, the marine industry developed technology for a new generation of low emission, high performance engines that are available now to recreational boaters.

Even with the new technology, the cooperation of individual boaters is essential in the effort to improve air quality and prevent pollution, according to EPA. Boaters can adopt the following practices that will help reduce pollution:

  • Limit engine operation at full throttle.
  • Eliminate unnecessary idling.
  • Avoid spilling gasoline.
  • Use a gasoline container you can handle easily and hold securely.
  • Pour slowly and smoothly.
  • Use a funnel or a spout with an automatic stop device to prevent overfilling the gas tank.
  • Close the vent on portable gas tanks when the engine is not in use or when the tank is stored.
  • Transport and store gasoline out of direct sunlight in a cool, dry place.
  • Use caution when pumping gasoline into a container at the gas station.
  • Carefully measure the proper amounts of gasoline and oil when refueling.
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule.
  • Prepare engines properly for winter storage.
  • Buy new, cleaner marine engines.

Additional documents on gasoline boats and personal watercrafts can be accessed from EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality Web site at Information about polluted runoff from marinas and boating can be accessed at

This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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