Toxicity of treated bilge water: The need for revised regulatory control

Water accumulating in the bottom of ships (bilge water), contains a mixture of oil, detergents and other compounds from on board activities. To evaluate ecological effects of released bilge water the chemical composition and toxicity of treated bilge water from seven passenger ships was analysed. The oil content was below 15 mg L−1, the threshold for legal discharge, in all but one ship.

Still, significant reductions in feeding and reproduction of Acartia tonsa were found after 48 h exposure in dilutions with 2.5–5% of bilgewater.Mortality was significant at dilutions of 5–10% in 4 of the 5 bilge water samples. Surfactantswere the most significant contributor to the toxicity on copepod vital rates and survival. Toxicity was also tested with Microtox where an EC50 was found at dilutions between 4.3% and 52%. The results showthat ecological effectsmight occur also in diluted suspensions of bilge water.

Subscribe to our newsletter