Assessment of water quality and heavy metal contamination in ballast water: Implications for marine ecosystems and human health


  • Amarachi Paschaline Onyena Department of Environmental Management and Pollution Control, Nigeria Maritime University Okerenkoko, Warri, Delta State, Nigeria
  • Obioma Reuben Nwaogbe Department of Transport and Nautical Science, Nigeria Maritime University Okerenkoko, Warri, Delta State, Nigeria



Environmental impacts, Ecosystem disruption, Water Quality Assessment, Heavy Metal impact, Marine ecosystems, Human health


The global menace of non-compliance with ballast water management poses a pressing environmental threat, as it facilitates the transfer of harmful organisms and sediment contaminants. This study investigates the environmental impact of ballast water discharged by ships, focusing on water quality and heavy metal concentrations. The release of ballast water, often containing elevated levels of heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium, poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems. The research, involving water sample collection from ten different vessels across various countries, assesses physicochemical parameters and heavy metal concentrations. Results indicate variations in temperature, turbidity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and pH levels among samples. Turbidity values surpassing WHO limits suggest potential anthropogenic pollution. The study identifies significant differences in pH values, potentially influencing microbial populations. Total dissolved solids and total suspended solids values vary, affecting the distribution of potential pathogens. The results reveal varying total concentrations of heavy metals (mg/L) in the following decreasing order: SA>SE>SF>SB>SC>SD>SH>SI>SG>SJ(6.07 >4.95 > 2.07 > 1.59>0.24>1.22>0.09>0.04>0.03>0.01). The highest concentration of heavy metals is recorded for iron (SA= 5.78), zinc (mg/L) (SB = 1.36, SE = 1.30, and SF = 1.35) and lead (Pb) (SE = 2.39). The elevated iron levels in vessels from SA are potentially linked to corrosion processes. Cadmium, lead, and nickel were not detected, except for lead in the sample from SE. Copper concentrations were aligned with EU standards in the vessels. Proper ballast water management is vital for monitoring water qualities, preventing environmental spread of heavy metals, ensuring marine ecosystem health, and developing compliance strategies for ships docking in ports.


  • Global shipping causes heavy metal pollution, affecting human and ecosystem health
  • Physicochemical parameters variations suggest potential pollution and microbial impact
  • Mercury, lead, and cadmium in ballast water (BW) pose threats to marine ecosystems
  • Increased iron levels could be associated with corrosion processes
  • Effective BW management is crucial for environmental conservation


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How to Cite

Onyena, A. P., & Nwaogbe, O. R. (2024). Assessment of water quality and heavy metal contamination in ballast water: Implications for marine ecosystems and human health. Maritime Technology and Research, 6(4), 270227.