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Water Res. 2012 Oct 15;46(16):4884-901. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2012.05.034. Epub 2012 May 28.

Disinfection by-products in ballast water treatment: an evaluation of regulatory data.

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Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Max-Dohrn-Strasse 8-10, D-10589 Berlin, Germany.


To reduce the global spread of invasive aquatic species, international regulations will soon require reductions of the number of organisms in ballast water discharged by ships. For this purpose, ballast water treatment systems were developed and approved by an international procedure. These systems rely on established water treatment principles which, to different degrees, have been proven to generate disinfection by-products with hazardous properties but have only scarcely been investigated in marine environments. Our study evaluates the publicly available documentation about approved ballast water treatment systems with regard to by-product formation. The most commonly employed methods are chlorination, ozonation, and ultraviolet (UV) irradiation. Chlorination systems generate trihalomethanes, halogenated acetic acids, and bromate in substantially larger quantities than reported for other areas of application. Levels are highest in brackish water, and brominated species predominate, in particular bromoform and dibromoacetic acid. Ozonation, which is less frequently utilized, produces bromoform in lower concentrations but forms higher levels of bromate, both of which were effectively reduced by active carbon treatment. In systems based on UV radiation, medium pressure lamps are employed as well as UV-induced advanced oxidation. For all UV systems, by-product formation is reported only occasionally. The most notable observations were small increases in nitrite, hydrogen peroxide, halogenated methanes and acetic acids. The assessment of by-product formation during ballast water treatment is limited by the lacking completeness and quality of available information. This concerns the extent and statistical characterisation of chemical analysis as well as the documentation of the test water parameters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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