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Published on 07/07/2018

Are you still risking your crew’s health?

Surely you are testing your water supply for Legionella? Escherichia Coli? and other waterborne diseases?

Under MLC 2006 guidelines, all vessels must complete regular water tests. At Martek Marine, we asked over 8,000 marine experts and decision-makers to help produce the most effective method to test your water.

The Importance of Water Quality Testing

In a review of over 100 outbreaks associated with ships, over 20% were directly attributed to waterborne diseases.

Under MLC 2006, you have a duty to conduct and document water testing on all consumable water supplies, whether it be for drinking, cooking or even cleaning.

Water quality testing is vital to keeping your crew’s health and ability in check. Early identification can prevent waterborne diseases from spreading and thus prevent illness to your crew and passengers.

By not testing your water, you run the risk of creating an established route for infectious disease transmission on and around ships.

So, you know the importance of testing your water, but how in-depth do you need to test it?

Depending on where you are in the world, water testing standards will vary from country to country. Each flag state lays down minimum requirements to ensure that all potable water is of appropriate quality, including water used for cleaning and cooking.

To ensure you meet the minimum requirements, our water testing kits have been specifically designed to guarantee the full compliance of MLC 2006.

Harmful Bacteria

A complication to keep in mind when considering how pure, or unfortunately toxic, your vessel’s potable water supplies are is that some contaminants could cause more gradual harm than others. Materials called acute toxins can inflict harm quickly, whereas chronic toxics deliver harm over a longer period.


Legionella initially affects an individual’s lungs, making it harder for crew members to carry out their everyday work. If left untreated, Legionella bacteria start to affect the heart and other organs, including the brain and can cause Legionnaire’s Disease.

In certain cases, septic shock can occur from a drop in blood pressure, eventually leading to lung and kidney failure. To prevent Legionella, antibiotic treatment is crucial to prevent these complications.

Find out more about legionella with our free guide.

Escherichia Coli

Escherichia Coli is another common waterborne disease. Although not as deadly as Legionnaires’, it will still render your crew unable to work. Symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and cramping, along with nausea and vomiting.

Despite individuals normally recovering with a week or two, when on board a ship without proper medication, your crew could be out of action for longer.


Dysentery often affects groups of people in close contacts, such as your crew on board. Most people think potable water is for drinking or cooking with, however, potable water is also used in cleaning, showering, washing hands, etc. If your water is contaminated, dysentery can be passed on incredibly quick, only taking one person to not wash their hands correctly.

Although not fatal, it will still put your crew out for several days or weeks.


Ship operators have a responsibility to protect their employees from these harmful bacteria.

DrinkSafe™ is an easy to use, accurate potable water testing kit designed to last 18 MONTHS and meet all compliance requirements.

By measuring pH, free and total chlorine, total coliforms, E. coli bacteria and Pseudomonas, the kit has GUARANTEED compliance with MLC 2006 on-board testing.

Similarly, the LegionellaMAX Test Kit is the most advanced, accurate and versatile technology from Martek Marine for the rapid detection of Legionella bacteria, both in water samples and biofilms taken from any source.

The test kit contains all the items required to perform 4 tests (2 water samples and 2 biofilm tests) and is designed for any water system such as showers, industrial and domestic water systems (e.g. cooling towers), spas and bathtubs.

Know the risks and always ensure that your water supply is safe.

Contact us to find out more.