Read the full post from PPRC.
For the past decade, copper has been the go-to metal to prevent boat hulls from fouling. A biocide, copper kills or deters marine life from sticking to boat bottoms. But studies suggest that copper, like its predecessor tributyltin (TBT), damages aquatic systems and species even at low levels like 2 ppb. In poorly circulating bays and marinas, copper reaches much higher levels. In San Diego’s Shelter Island Yacht Basin, an estimated 2.5 tons of copper leaches from the bottoms of 2,000 boats each year.
Western states are leading the campaign against copper bottom paints. A state of water conscious citizens, Washington became the first state to ban copper based paints, though this ban hasn’t yet taken effect. Beginning in 2020, owners of recreational boats (under 65 feet) cannot buy bottom paint that contains over 0.5% copper. And starting in 2018, recreational boats on the market need to be stripped of copper paint or sealed. In California, a similar bill to ban copper paints in recreational boats has been shelved in the Senate until later this year.
If you’re a marina manager, boatyard employee, boat painter, or simply a boat owner, it may be time to look for a new anti-fouling paint. What other options exist for those that want to do minimal harm to aquatic species without sacrificing cost and performance? Dr. Katy Wolf of the Institute for Research and Technical Assistance (IRTA), has made it her goal to find out. Wolf conducted a series studies at West Coast ports and boatyards to determine both the highest performance non-biocide paints, and the most cost-effective application methods.