Microbial contamination can cause spoilage of cargoes during shipping.


Microbial growth may occur in ship’s cargo tanks leading to spoilage of organic products such as fuels, oils, grains and other materials.  This is a known issue in transport of hydrocarbon products, wherever any water accumulates or is introduced into cargo tanks accidentally or during tank washing.

Shipping under conditions of high humidity can result in fungal growth and spoilage of organic materials such as rubbers, grains and polymers.

It is difficult to remove water which settles to the bottom of cargo tanks and thus extensive microbial growth may occur if the cargo is held on board for a long period of time. Microbial growth may commence before loading or during the voyage but may not be noticed until after the sea voyage.  Investigation of cargo spoilage requires specialist expertise.

ECHA can;

  • Conduct analysis of samples of cargo samples in our laboratory to assess the extent, identity and source of microbiological contamination. Learn more about our lab analysis service here.
  • Provide on-board microbial Test Kits. ECHA’s MicrobMonitor2 is a globally recognised industry standard test (IP 613/ASTM D7978) which can be used on-site or in the laboratory by non-microbiologists for the detection of microbiological contamination in fuels oils and other materials. Learn more about the test here.
  • Conduct surveys of tanks and systems to investigate cargo spoilage. Learn more about our Site Surveys here.
  • Provide advice on remediation, control, monitoring strategies and best practice. Learn more about our Consultancy Services here.
  • Offer comprehensive, tailored training courses on microbiological contamination. Learn more about our Training Courses here.