Low-energy UV-based Systems are Safe, Established, and Green

UV systems use light in the germicidal range, meaning that it neutralizes organisms by rendering them incapable of reproduction. This capability has allowed widespread adoption of UV light as an environmentally friendly, chemical-free, and effective way to disinfect and treat water. Today, UV-based water treatment systems protect over one billion people from harmful effects of invasive organisms in drinking water and wastewater applications.

UV-based ballast water management systems do not use or generate substances that will be “persistent, bioaccumulative, or toxic when discharged” (46 CFR 162.060-10(f)(5)), and they do not produce explosive gases.

In contrast, chlorine-based ballast water management systems increase environmental risk due to potential for chlorine discharge and the formation of disinfection by-products, which is of increasing global environmental concern (more citations here). These systems also produce H2 gas, which increases risks of explosion.

The USCG has the ability, today, to Type Approve ballast water management systems which were submitted in March 2015. In fact, in August 2015 Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the USCG, indicated that USCG Type Approval of the three UV-based systems that were submitted in March 2015 was imminent:

“We’re working with four independent labs right now to validate (technology) submittals. There are three submittals right now in the final stage. Eight others are in the initial stage of review. I’m pretty optimistic we will have Coast Guard approved ballast water standards by the IMO conference in November.”
– Maritime Reporter And Engineering News, August 2015, p.35 (quoting Admiral Paul Zukunft)

UV technology utilizing the MPN method is ubiquitously used to protect global human health, supported by the world’s foremost scientific experts, and just as protective of the environment, if not even more so, than the currently approved measurement method.


Delacroix, S., Vogelsang, C., Tobiesen, A., Liltved H. (2013). Disinfection by-products and ecotoxicity of ballast water after oxidative treatment–results and experiences from seven years of full-scale testing of ballast water management systems.

Gonsior, M. et al (2015). Bromination of Marine Dissolved Organic Matter Following Full Scale Electrochemical Ballast Water Disinfection. Environmental Science & Technology, DOI : 10.1021/acs.est.5b01474. 

Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen – German Research Centre for Environmental Health (2015).

Shah, A.D., Liu, Z., Salhi, E., Höfer, T., Werschkun, B., von Gunten, U. (2015). Formation of disinfection by-products during ballast water treatment with ozone, chlorine, and peracetic acid: influence of water quality parameters.

Werschkun, B., Sommer, Y., Banerji, S (2012). Disinfection byproducts in ballast water treatment: An evaluation of regulatory data. Water Research. 46: 4884-4901. Doi:10.1016/j.watres.2012 .05.034.

Effect Change

Together with concerned citizens, environmental groups, shipowners, marine organizations, and manufacturers, let’s urge the USCG to reconsider its decision.

Send a letter to the USCG