Assessing the risk of ballast water treatment to human health
Ballast water management systems utilizing noxious chemicals have to be approved according to the Ballast Water Convention by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The approval procedure requires human health risk assessment. Our objective was to evaluate the existing human health risk assessment process for ballast water management systems. Towards this end, we analyzed the available applications for IMO approval. Since the majority of active substances currently in use are oxidative compounds the corresponding treatment systems generate and release a large number of disinfection by-products. The application dossiers only select a number of by-products for risk assessment. We propose a more comprehensive approach based on the type of ballast water management system, the quality of water treated and the toxicity of compounds discharged into the environment. Subsequent to effects assessment we propose to classify substances according to a hazard evaluation procedure, based on an approach used for maritime transport. We identified a need for better exposure assessment. This requires knowledge of exposure situations. We provide a comprehensive listing of occupational and non-occupational exposure settings and quantification models for exposure assessment.