Inputs of disinfection by-products to the marine environment from various industrial activities: Comparison to natural production


  • Grote Matthias
  • Boudenne Jean-Luc
  • Croué Jean-Philippe
  • Escher Beate
  • von Gunten Urs
  • Hahn Josefine
  • Höfer Thomas
  • Jenner Henk
  • Jiang Jingyi
  • Karanfil Tanju
  • Khalanski Michel
  • Kim Daekyun
  • Linders Jan
  • Manasfi Tarek
  • Polman Harry
  • Quack Birgit
  • Tegtmeier Susann
  • Werschkun Barbara
  • Zhang Xiangru
  • Ziegler Greg


  • Disinfection by-products
  • Oxidant treatment
  • Marine water
  • Cooling water
  • Desalination
  • Ballast water treatment

document type



Oxidative treatment of seawater in coastal and shipboard installations is applied to control biofouling and/or to minimize the input of noxious or invasive species into the marine environment. This treatment allows a safe and efficient operation of industrial installations and helps to protect human health from infectious diseases and to maintain the biodiversity in the marine environment. On the downside, the application of chemical oxidants generates undesired organic compounds, so-called disinfection by-products (DBPs), which are discharged into the marine environment. This article provides an overview on sources and quantities of DBP inputs, which could serve as basis for hazard analysis for the marine environment, human health and the atmosphere. During oxidation of marine water, mainly brominated DBPs are generated with bromoform (CHBr3) being the major DBP. CHBr3 has been used as an indicator to compare inputs from different sources. Total global annual volumes of treated seawater inputs resulting from cooling processes of coastal power stations, from desalination plants and from ballast water treatment in ships are estimated to be 470 – 800 x 109 m3, 46 x 109 m3 and 3.5 x 109 m3, respectively. Overall, the total estimated anthropogenic bromoform production and discharge adds up to 13.5 – 21.8 x 106 kg/a (kg per year) with contributions of 11.8 – 20.1 x 106 kg/a from cooling water treatment, 0.89 x 106 kg/a from desalination and 0.86 x 106 kg/a from ballast water treatment. This equals approximately 2 – 6 % of the natural bromoform emissions from marine water, which is estimated to be 385 – 870 x 106 kg/a.

more information