Keeping a boat in the water increases the likelihood of its being used, but it also puts the hull at greater risk from damaging marine growth, like algae, seaweed, and shellfish. Since regular mechanical removal can be labor intensive and costly, boat owners have long sought anti fouling services to prevent marine life from making their homes on the underside of the boat. Over the years they have come up with many different anti fouling coatings, including paint, copper sheeting, and epoxies.
Some anti fouling paints are made with biocides that repel marine organisms to slow their growth on the hull. This has raised some environmental concerns about the dangers of anti fouling paint for marine life (also see How Improper Management of Ballast Waste Water Impacts Marine Life). Some biocides like tributyltin and triphenyltin have even been banned in many countries because of their toxicity to marine life. Washington and California States have been taking the lead in studying the effects of anti fouling paints on the environment and looking for alternative options.
There has especially been concern about the copper levels in the water due to this metals use in some anti fouling paints. High copper levels in the water can be extremely hazardous to aquatic life. It can cause damage to their organs and nervous system, as well as reducing their sense of smell. Because of these dangers, Washington State has a law that will ban the use of copper based hull paint for recreational boats by 2020.
Still, it is important to consider the damage marine growth on bottom of a boat will cause. At the very least, the irregular surface caused by the organisms decreases a boat’s fluid dynamic and slows its speed. That increases the boats use of fuel. Some marine creatures, like barnacles, can even damage the hull and the prop. There is also the risk of bringing harmful marine organisms into new environments.
At this time, all anti fouling paints can only use biocides register with the Environmental Protection Agency. Before an anti fouling paint can be sold, it has to go through around five years of research and testing. Some anti fouling paints that are on the market have been formulated to release less toxins into the water. These paints have less copper in their formulas and less biocides. They also have a slower biocide release rate.
Instead of using anti fouling paints that contain toxic elements, some manufacturers have created paints that slow marine growth by making it hard for the organism to bond with the surface. Some of these coatings make the surface very hard or very smooth. The Environmental Protection Agency has ongoing studies into the effectiveness of non-biocide coatings.
It takes thought and consideration to choose which anti fouling paint to use. Since many of these coatings require professional application, it is helpful to consider using anti fouling services. Check out www.cathodicme.com for more information.