Breakthroughs in marine paints spur TBT phase-out

A world-wide phase-out of marine anti-fouling paints containing tributyl tin (TBT) is likely to be agreed this year following a breakthrough in the performance of alternative products. Growing evidence of TBT's persistence in marine mammals, birds and deep-sea species is adding to pressure for a ban within five years.

Anti-fouling paints based on TBT were developed in the 1960s. The products are extremely effective, but have had widespread environmental effects. TBT concentrations as low as 5ng/l cause deformities in oysters and reproductive problems in other molluscs. In 1993, an official UK study found that dogwhelk populations in many southern areas of the North Sea had been endangered by TBT (ENDS Report 227, pp 7-8

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