Analytical Instrumentation

  • New Marine Hygiene & Sewage Effluent Test Kits Offer a Clean Bill of Health

New Marine Hygiene & Sewage Effluent Test Kits Offer a Clean Bill of Health

Sep 30 2008 Read 1877 Times

A new range of test equipment from Kittiwake Developments (UK) could help the world`s shipping industry combat a centuries-old problem, improve system efficiency and adhere to the latest regulations.

Kittiwake is a company normally associated with technical engine and machinery monitoring equipment used onboard to test fuel and lubricant quality. This proactive approach to monitoring and maintaining critical systems has become a widely accepted and established addition to laboratory based testing of critical fluids. In 2001 Kittiwake extended this principle into the industrial water testing market and now supplies water quality and contamination monitoring equipment to a vast number of organisations worldwide.


Much like land based hotels, industrial plants and water processing facilities marine vessels use water for a multitude of applications including showers, cooling systems, boilers, cooking, drinking, swimming pools, processing and many more… Monitoring onboard water systems will provide a vast array of benefits to the vessel and Kittiwake has launched a selection of cost effective and simple to use water monitoring solutions to help maintain efficiency, keep customers and employees healthy and assist you in adhering to changes in legislation.

Historically, ships have played a major role in the transmission of deadly diseases around the world. Records dating back to the fourteenth century showed that ports often denied entry to ships suspected of carrying plague, among the earliest attempts to control the spread of infectious disease.

In the nineteenth century the spread of cholera was also widely linked to merchant shipping.

But the problem, it seems, is as real as it ever was. More recently, a World Health Organisation (WHO) review identified over 100 disease outbreaks associated with ships between 1970 and 2000.

Worryingly, many of these diseases are just as deadly as those from years gone by.

"Recent high profile legionella scares on board cruise ships have again highlighted the issue of passenger and crew health and safety, especially in respect of microbiological contamination of water and air handling systems," says Gary Rowland, Water Testing Sales Manager at Kittiwake Developments.

"Simple regular testing of these systems for micro-organisms like coliforms, e.coli and pseudomonas will reduce risks, help keep employees healthy and ultimately save lives," he says.

The West Sussex, UK firm has created its own solution to this age-old health problem, a portable marine hygiene test kit that can quickly raise alarm bells if any nasty intruders – in the shape of killer diseases – are found on board. The tests are easy to carry out and can deliver highly accurate results more or less immediately.

The Kittiwake pack also includes a marine hygiene log book which distils current WHO health and safety guidelines for ships operating at sea.

This is not as simple as it sounds. WHO, in line with the International Health Regulations 2005, has drafted guidelines on ship sanitation which specifically detail the systems that require monitoring, the method and frequency of monitoring, and record-keeping requirements.

These were created in close collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Passenger ships, general cargo vessels, fishing vessels, naval vessels, tankers and offshore oil rigs are all required to conform to these strict standards.

"The WHO Guide to Ship Sanitation has become the official global reference on health requirements for ship construction and operation,” says Rowland. “The aim is to standardize the sanitary measures taken in ships, to safeguard the health of travelers and to prevent the spread of infection from one country to another."

As well as the acute public health risks at stake, this can also lead to negative interference on both trade and travel. For a shipping company caught in a health scare it can lead to loss of reputation and potentially more serious repercussions.

A large proportion of the WHO review of 100 outbreaks was attributable to waterborne outbreaks. Most of these involved ingestion of water that was contaminated with pathogens derived from human or animal excreta.

In addition, chemical outbreaks of water poisoning have also occurred on ships. This can arise on from water uplifted from port. Outbreaks were associated with contaminated bunkered water, cross connections between potable and non potable water, improper loading procedures, poor design and construction of potable water storage drinks and inadequate disinfection

Crucially, contamination must be detected early enough to prevent contaminated water reaching passengers and crew. "The marine hygiene test kit can help ship operators with testing, minimising the threat to human life, and ultimately lowering the risk of operational downtime," he says.

The environmental impact of global industry is mentioned in almost every breath and many industries, including shipping are now duty bound to improve the quality of both water and airborne emissions. IMOs MARPOL regulates the environmental impact of ocean going vessels and the resolution MEPC.115(51) revision of ANNEX IV which will come into force on 27th September 2008 regulates the environmental impact of ocean going vessels and already specifies performance criteria for on-board sewage effluent treatment systems. Performance of Sewage Treatment Systems will be a pre-qualifier to obtaining an International Sewage Pollution Prevention certificate.

Environmental concern for oceans with sensitive ecosystems has lead to the introduction of additional performance testing of sewage treatment systems and testing of these systems is likely to become a requirement for entry to many ports. Resolution MEPC.115(51) regulates for mandatory installation and ongoing operation of sewage treatment systems for new vessels over 400gt and vessels under 400gt certified to carry more than 15 persons. A port authority can instruct a survey of the system at any time and if the system is shown not to substantially comply, i.e. perform to type approval, then the vessel can be held in port until repairs are completed (Regulation 4(5)).

With this in mind Kittiwake has introduced the Sewage Effluent Test Kit. Enabling ships engineers to rapidly assess the performance of onboard treatment systems and demonstrate to port authorities that the effluent discharge is within the consent levels detailed in the MARPOL regulations.

Often we forget about process water, part of our engine make-up or system design. Overlooking the quality of these water systems can be suicidal, but monitoring them is very simple indeed. Engine cooling systems contain carefully blended additives that prevent scale deposits and corrosion of engine waterways. It is very important that the concentration of the additive is maintained at the correct level for optimum protection. Low and medium pressure steam boilers are also treated with special corrosion and scale inhibitors and it is vitally important to maintain precise levels of these additives to ensure correct and efficient steam generation. Failure to regularly maintain and monitor treatments will inevitably end in system failure and expensive corrective maintenance.

Kittiwake supply treatment test kits for engine cooling water and steam boiler water. The kits are very simple to operate and will enable the ships engineer to monitor scale and corrosion inhibitor concentrations. Regular testing will allow rapid corrective action to take place helping maintain optimum operating conditions, minimize down-time and reduce energy costs.


Paul Froome, Marketing Manager for Kittiwake adds, "The numerous water systems onboard a modern ship makes it very difficult to keep tabs on the complete system quality. But this does not mean that any should be overlooked." Monitoring is either required or necessary on supplies from port, water production, treatment and distribution, for instance, showers, swimming and spa pools, waste disposal and air ductwork systems.

Froome says "the aim of the marine hygiene, sewage effluent, boiler and cooling water test kits is to help ship personnel keep on top of the numerous checks and requirements that are now necessary to ensure that a vessel stays clean and operates efficiently. Our water testing experts at Kittiwake have worked hard to develop these kits to ensure they are simple to use with step by step instructions and guidelines to follow when results step out of the safety threshold." Kittiwake supply these kits separately or as part of a comprehensive onboard water testing cabinet.

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