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Health hazards of tbt antifouling

rex_seadog

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Joined
30 Jul 2001
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233
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Sutton Coldfield
I think most of us are aware that antifouling paints containing tributyl tin are now banned and that care should be taken in removing old A/F paint. In one of the threads on this subject in, I think, the last year or so, one of our forumites mentioned that an acquaintence had been quite ill after sanding off some of this paint. Although I've carried out a search I can't seem to locate this particuliar thread.
The reason I am trying to trace this posting is that I scraped off some old anti fouling paint about 6 weeks ago and since then have been suffering from throat problems -very sore and even bleeding in the early stages. I thought I'd taken all the necessary precautions - face mask, face visor overalls, gloves etc. - but due to my glasses steaming up I have to confess that I was less than diligent with the face mask and I certainly got some of the stuff in my mouth. Despite several visits to the doctor (or rather doctors as you can never seem to get an appointment with your own GP) and a chest X-ray the consensus seems to be that I've got a simple throat infection. However, I've never known one last this long with little improvement. When you mention tbt the doctors simply look blank. Talking to the experts at a well known paint company they tell me that tbt in contact with the skin causes blistering and burning which seems to match the problems I'm experiencing in my throat.
So, does anyone have any knowledge of the likely immediate symptoms of inhaling or ingesting tbt paint? Please go easy on the details - I understand it can act as a gender bender (definitely not one of my symptoms) and I'm sure in the longer term as a carcinogen.
I've tried talking to Guy's toxicology department but they will only deal with the medical profession. Obviously I will go back to the quacks if things don't improve but it would useful to get more information before I 'trouble' them yet again.
I should add that I'm not normally a hypochondriac and before this could barely remember the name of my GP.
Thanks, croak, thanks.
 

charles_reed

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29 Jun 2001
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10,414
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Home Shropshire 6/12; boat Greece 6/12
The "best" collection of data appears to be on soton.ac site where there is a virtual symposium but requiring administrators' priveleges to access.

It depends upon which salt of TBT as to the immediate symptoms - however there are further serious potential endocrinological complications.

This information is not likely to be available to an average GP (God knows there are enough changes going on).

If you like I'll try and access Soton through my daughter who is a Reader (albeit in a different School).

However it's better that you don't try and research yourself but get yourself into specialist hands. Try QE in B'ham.
 

oldharry

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30 May 2001
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North from the Nab about 10 miles

AndrewB

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7 Jun 2001
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5,626
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Dover/Corfu
A long while back I posted about a friend who had been seriously ill as a result of TBT inhalation. What he did was the height of foolishness. Took about 3 days to dry power sand a wooden yacht clean of all antifouling, lying underneath the yacht with not even the most basic face mask. He suffered considerable lung damage which came on a day or two after he finished. I lost touch with him after he was admitted to hospital and only met him once again, so I don't know the exact details. He had been ill for about six months, difficulty breathing, but he didn't have skin or eye complications. He didn't mention throat irritation though that is plausible.

TBT certainly caused blistering and burning, I remember what happened if you didn't wash it off immediately if it dripped on your hands when applied. It had a distinctive smell and 'taste' if there was any dust around, quite different from modern antifouling.

But bear in mind this is fresh paint, and my friend was sanding TBT no more than a year old. Yours would be over 15 years old now, and the active ingredient probably has been nearly all leached out.
 

simonfraser

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13 Mar 2004
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6,781
just a thought, would this chap have suffered as much if he had removed the stuff wet ?????
 

philip_stevens

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16 May 2001
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live near Saint Ives, Cornwall.
Have a read of http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/pyrethrins-ziram/tributyltin-ext.html

One item caught my eye - " <font color="red">TBT exposure can also irritate the eye, skin, and mucous membranes and prolonged exposure may cause liver and kidney damage. </font>"

No wonder it was banned, even though it was an excellent AF. Maybe too good.

I believe that commercial vessels are still allowed to use TBT AF. (I could be wrong).
 

William_H

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Joined
28 Jul 2003
Messages
12,521
Location
West Australia
Writing without any authority on the subject at all it seems to me that a lot of TBT A/F was used at a time when people were even less concerned about their own health and there were no cases that I have heard of where TBT A/F caused a problem. I would caution you that yes you could be one of a small minority who are more susceptible or more unlucky than most and it has harmed you but it is very unlikely. Even if the cause was TBT would the treatment be any different to what you are getting now for infected throat? I would recommend you try more doctors there are other rare diseases that could be causing the symptoms which do need different treatment. Keep in mind TBT as a possibility but don't exclude all the other possibilities. regards will
 

Ships_Cat

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7 Sep 2004
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As far as I know tributyl tin was banned mainly for its effect on the marine environment, not because it had any human health impact greater than other antifouling paints.

All antifouling dust can have an impact on health (but I doubt whether one casual non occupational contact would be of long lasting effect). The main health hazard with these paints, again regardless of whether tributyl tin or not, are the solvents during application. Also, the warnings on modern antifouling safety data sheets are more severe than that quoted by another poster for tributyl tin.

You may find this link interesting http://www.yachtpaint.com/superyacht/sy/pdf/AppOfAntifouling.pdf noting that it applies to both tributyl tin and modern antifouling paints and specifically says that the dry particles are less dangerous than the wet paint.

John
 
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