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Copper Antifouling Paint - California Senate Bill 623
Team McLube



Jun 8, 2011, 11:55 AM

Post #1 of 2 (10363 views)
Copper Antifouling Paint - California Senate Bill 623 Log-In to Post/Reply

From Doug Simms:

The California State Senate has passed a ban on copper antifouling paint ONLY for recreational boats. California Senate Bill 623 has passed the full senate 25 to 13, probably along party lines (25 democrat and 13 republican senators).

The state assembly has the bill now.

This bill was authored by Senator Kehoe from San Diego. I found a report on the internet by two scientists that documented the copper levels in the San Diego Bay. Since the highest levels were in marinas versus other shoreside facilities they came to the conclusion that the copper was from the bottom paint. I believe that this report is the basis for the legislation.

Although this legislation attempts to reduce toxic pollution in the coastal waters, the way it is written, it will never succeed.

The owners of all boats that are in the water most of the time apply bottom paint to prevent/reduce the growth of organisms, barnacles and corals, on the underwater surface. The Bottom paint prevents growth by providing a toxic environment on the underwater surface of the boat. Copper is the current toxin and has been used for centuries. There are two problems that prevent this legislation from working.

1.) Currently available bottom paints, by design, slowly falls off taking some copper with it. Thus dispersing the copper into the local environment. If the copper in the bottom paint is replaced with another toxin this new toxin will just be another source of pollution. The bill does not PREVENT the use of toxins it only promotes "the use of nonbiocide alternative paints".

2.) The currently available selection of bottom paints (with copper) do a poor job of preventing growth. To keep a clean bottom on a boat that is used occasionally, the boat owner is forced to use a diver to periodically scrub the bottom, thereby releasing even more bottom paint and toxins into the local environment. The bill says nothing about the bottom paint retaining the anti-fouling components (Toxins) to prevent pollution.

It is my opinion that the assembly needs to re-write this bill to have any toxin used in bottom paint, retained by the paint, even under scrubbing, and include "commercial vessels" to truly prevent pollution in our waterways.

The Publisher

Jun 13, 2011, 6:38 AM

Post #2 of 2 (10236 views)
Re: [ms] Copper Antifouling Paint - California Senate Bill 623 [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Roger Marshall:
Having checked into bottom paints and seen the results over many years, I'll add my two cents worth. Different boats need different paints. Racing sailboats that move at higher speeds need a harder bottom paint which usually has less copper. Conventional slow speed boats can use a rosin based paint. Most boats use an ablative paint.

Ablative paints wear away as the boat moves and the new surface exposes more copper. However, slime build up can cut down on any paint's effectiveness, so most manufacturers use Irgarol or Biolux to prevent slime build up.

The California problem according to people (paint manufacturers) who have looked at the problem carefully, occurs mostly in San Diego harbor where boats are cleaned by divers. Each time a boat is cleaned a cloud of copper residue sinks to the bottom. In San Diego the tides don't scour the ocean bed like they do in say, Narragansett Bay, and the residues build up in the bottom sediment.

Copper occurs naturally in seawater - in fact, I once saw an estimate that said, all boats add less than 1% copper to the amount already in the ocean. It is used for water pipes in most homes. In fact, I remember Steve Schultz, former president of Interlux and now with Boero, telling me that the company used scrap water pipes to make the copper compound in their paints until China started buying most of the US scrap metals. Copper bottom paint is only toxic in high concentrations and that occurs within a few millimeters of the hull paint.

Where copper is banned, manufacturers will use other less effective (and possibly more hazardous), chemicals. I'd say beware of what you legislate away.

Here is an article published by IBI Magazine from November 17, 2006 titled ‘Copper is low-risk to marine life, new antifouling study reveals’ that disputes the copper threat:

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