Study: Viruses hide in ballast of Great Lakes ships

Apr 4, 2017

For years, the folks who protect the Great Lakes have warned about the dangers of ballast water discharges -- because they can carry invasive species. Now a study by Michigan State researchers shows that ballast water also can contain viruses dangerous to wildlife and humans, Great Lakes Echo reports.

Ballast water is used to stabilize cargo ships. And regulations restrict discharges in the Great Lakes -- one of the defenses against invasive species.

The study, which examined ballast water from ships traveling within the Great Lakes, identified several dangerous viruses.

“These organisms could definitely affect fishing industries and industries that rely on the Great Lakes,” co-author Yiseul Kim told Great Lakes Echo.

There are several methods for treating ballast water to prevent the release of invasive species. But those methods have not been tested for removing viruses, according to the study.