Active substances used in antifouling products and restrictions on their use

Antifouling products marketed for use on pleasure boats contain mostly copper compounds (dicopper oxide, cuprous thiocyanate, copper pyrithione) as active substances. Zinc compounds (zinc pyrithione) are also used in some coatings. Organic compounds (such as dichlofluanid) are also used in them to intensify the effect of copper compounds.


The environmental and health impacts of antifouling products intended for pleasure boats currently on the market have been assessed. Environmental risk assessments have resulted in a limit value being set for copper emissions into water bodies. The rate for copper dissolution from a boat hull may not exceed 15 µg/cm2/day (14-day average during product usage). This restriction applies to antifouling products intended for consumer use, which means products used on pleasure boats. In addition, the use of antifouling products is totally forbidden on vessels that mainly sail inland waters. Therefore if a boat's home port is in a lake or river, it is prohibited to use antifouling products on it.


Antifouling products used by fish farms are also covered by the authorisation procedure. Some products containing copper are currently permitted for professional use at facilities located in sea areas. The use of such products in inland facilities is prohibited.


In addition to the above active substances, organotin compounds (tributyltin fluoride, tributyltin oxide, tributyltin methacrylate) have been in use in large vessels (25m or longer). Under a Government decision, the use of organotin compounds has been forbidden on all vessels since 1 January 2003.


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