Join Date: Jul 2002
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Copper Bottom Paint Ban In San Diego (Long but Important!)
Here''s the post I placed on another BB regarding this same "Henny Penny, the sky is falling..." note on reducing copper content in bottom paint.
I had an interesting, very informative chat with one of the techncial guys at the International Paints booth here in London this week. He''d worked at one point for 3 years on the East Coast of the U.S., is British by birth and now represents International to all of the southern European region''s vendors, yards, etc. In short, he''s got a keep perspective on bottom paint technology and also practices in various parts of the world.
He explained how different the history of bottom paint development has been in Europe vs. the U.S., driven primarily by EPA''s initial reluctance to allow biocides and metals to be used in U.S.-sold products other than copper. Copper became King in the U.S. products (especially so, once tin was outlawed) and we boat owners would all carefully shop for ''best value'' by reading the % by weight of copper in a given product vs. its price. Consequently, modified epoxy media became common because it was the paint type most suitable for large copper content paints.
Meanwhile, European countries took an oppositie tack, allowing a wide range of biocides to be used, in part to encourage a reduction in the use of copper. (Truly: one person''s pleasure is another person''s poison...). Manufacturers over here have had to adapt to changes in govt. positions on certain biocides but, in general, work harder at developing the most effective combination of metals and biocides, and therefore neither they nor the boat owner is so focused on copper content alone (which is quite low by comparison in all the products here, something like 10% by weight). That''s why you can''t find modified epoxy paints over here; the self-polishing and ablative media better suit the molecule chains developed for these combination-poison products.
I have no idea what''s best for San Diego Bay but suspect what we''re seeing here is that, once again, California is going to drive the market by acting on a more informed view of the total environmental equation...perhaps due to a less provincial view of the antifouling industry than most of us U.S. sailors enjoy. There may also be a wee bit of a civics lesson here for us, as well. Watchdog groups serve a useful function but see all things through their one lens, which may seem to be a benefit for us as sailors but perhaps less so as citizens of the Big Blue Marble).