New drinking water tests from Martek reduce risk from potentially fatal pathogens

Jul 25, 2013

Martek Marine, leading manufacturer of maritime safety equipment, is introducing potable water testing kits to its product range, designed to meet the regulations on drinking water which come into force with the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) in August 2013. The only standard kit guaranteed to meet all legislation and flag state requirements, Drinksafe has been designed to be the easiest kit on the market, providing effective testing for the presence of harmful bacteria and toxins, corrosion related contaminants and pH/Chlorine levels. 

Martek’s Drinksafe is easy to use and requires no calibration, saving unnecessary spending on calibrations and saving crew from complicated and time consuming procedures. Drinksafe does not use glass ampoules or messy sample bags, and is robust enough for use on-board as well as light, waterproof and small enough for simple stowage when not in use.

Multi-language instructional videos explain the testing process, while simple-use diagrams remind exactly how the kit should be used. Drinksafe contains 2000 tests, more than any other on the market and enough to last a whole year for one vessel. This provides a comparative cost per test that is over 50% lower than the closest comparative test kit.

Drinksafe comes in a rugged all-in-one waterproof storage box which protects from damage and keeps components together in labeled, segmented areas.

Guidelines on the provision of drinking water at sea are currently provided by numerous different bodies including the World Health Organisation, the International Labour Organisation and national health organisations and maritime bodies. Though well-intentioned, the current guidelines are largely ineffective because they vary so widely and are therefore difficult to implement and enforce. The introduction of overarching regulation set out in the MLC and by the World Health Organisation (WHO) governing seafarers’ rights is expected to address this. MLC 2006 Standard A3.2 – Food and Catering, paragraph 7 states that “the competent authority shall require that frequent documented inspections be carried out on board ships, by or under the authority of the master, with respect to….supplies of drinking water”.

This is further strengthened by the WHO Guide to Ship Sanitation (2011) & Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality (2008) which lists the following “recommended parameters to be monitored:…E. coli or coliforms; Chlorine residual (daily); Microbial quality - bacterial plate count; pH (daily); Turbidity; Corrosion-related contaminants - iron & copper.”

Factors that can promote the growth of bacteria and toxins in a ship’s water supply include limited flow rate, tank or pipe corrosion, alkalinity or acidity and temperature. Often, these problems occur together, accelerating the growth of bacteria. Unfortunately, the growth of bacteria also worsens these issues, for example, some bacteria produce carbon dioxide, which reacts with the water to increase acidity, resulting in more corrosion.

Bacteria and pathogens that can grow in poorly maintained drinking water include E.coli, Norovirus, Salmonella and Legionella bacteria, which can lead to Legionnaires’ disease, a pneumonia-like illness which can be fatal. The importance of avoiding these bacteria is particularly heightened on a vessel which could be days from the nearest port and for which delays or route changes for medical assistance could cost thousands of dollars.

Drinksafe is used to take one sample directly from the water tank and another at the furthest point from the tank. This allows the main water source to be directly tested for bacteria and toxins, as well as the distribution system through which the water flows for everyday use for drinking, personal hygiene, and food preparation.

Water quality recordings are easy to make using the supplied test log book which can be used for Port State Control or flag state inspections.

Martek’s support services include a 24/7 helpline offering expert guidance and advice on water testing as well as an easy to use online ordering facility with a questionnaire to help determine the buyer’s exact requirements and same day account setup and dispatch from Martek’s global distribution network.

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