The anti fouling paint industry is taking direct aim at California hull cleaners and it seems clear that their intent is to dramatically curtail or even eliminate the in-water hull cleaning of pleasure craft in California. Please read below an excerpt taken from the web site of the American Coatings Association (ACA), who are the lobbying group for the anti fouling paint industry (bold type mine):
ACA and its Anti Fouling Work Group (AFWG) contend that anti fouling paints release copper at a restricted rate and that excessive underwater hull cleaning practices contribute a high percentage of the release of copper into marinas. Further, modern anti fouling copper-based coatings are designed to be effective without frequent cleaning and cleaning schedules should follow manufacturers’ recommendations.
In March 2011, members of the AFWG, and other affected registrants, received a data request from the California Department of Pesticides Regulation (DPR) titled, “Clarification of Leach Rate Determination, Notice of Additional Data Requirements and Meeting Regarding the Reevaluation of Copper Based Anti-fouling Paint Pesticides.” The data requirement called for, among other things, a protocol to accurately determine the impact underwater hull cleaning has on overall copper release from anti fouling paint.
ACA’s AFWG developed and submitted, in June 2012, the “In Water Hull Cleaning and Passive Leaching Study Protocol” to DPR and coordinated the funding of the study amongst copper suppliers and copper-based anti fouling registrants in California. The purpose of this study is to ascertain the effect of underwater hull cleaning methods on various types of anti-fouling paints and to quantify the amount of copper that enters the water column from passive leaching. The study will test the most contemporary anti-fouling paints used in Shelter Island Yacht basin. This includes ablative coatings, which were not properly addressed in prior studies. ACA contracted with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, a subgroup of the U.S. Navy, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography and appointed a study overseer to visit the site and ensure adherence to the protocol. The study commenced on Aug. 13, 2012, and a final report of the results is expected in the spring of 2013. It will be published in the Journal of Biofouling and DPR will use the results of the study to inform the development of mitigation strategies.
The results of the study and the mitigation strategies developed by DPR will not just determine the course for anti-fouling coatings in California, but will have global implications.
New Copper Coatings Bill Introduced in California Legislature
The paint manufacturers and the corporations that provide them with copper are very much interested in making sure they are able to continue to sell copper-based anti fouling paints in California. Faced with continuing legislative and regulatory pressure to reduce the copper contribution to our coastal waterways from anti fouling paint, they are attempting throwing hull cleaners under the bus. All previous studies done in California have shown that in-water hull cleaning is responsible for about 5% of the copper that comes from anti fouling paint. The rest comes from passive leaching, which these paints do 24/7/365. ACA and the companies they represent have funded this new study and it's a sure bet the results they come up with will show that hull cleaners are responsible for a much higher percentage of that copper (estimates are as much as 50%, a ten-fold increase.)
In any event, this is a clear case of the fox guarding the henhouse. The coming months will be very interesting. Stay tuned if you are a boater that enjoys have a clean bottom.