Antifouling - caribbean. Errors come back to bite.

seansea

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Some years ago, I kept a boat in the Caribbean, the waters are generally very clean but not this particular harbour due to lack of circulation. The hull bottom would very quickly foul up with any decent antifouling. Word had it that the best solution was a US brand available in Island Waterworld combined with a separate product Tin in a bottle - which I later found out is TBT (Tributylin) banned in Europe and the US. The company sold this product in the Caribbean only. TBT causes molluscs to change sex I gather. It worked well on the bottom but another season, word was it that there was a some red bottom paint used by the inter island ferries which was even more effective at keeping the bottom clean. I was in. A few years later, back in Guernsey GB, I decided it was time to strip back the layers of antifouling to gelcoat. I decided to do this myself using a combination of hand tools and orbital sander. It was a hellish job, really hard work and very messy. I wore a full zip suit and a proper mask recommended for this task. The paint dust still got everywhere, on the skin and face. Some days later, relieved to have finished, I was walking on the cliffs of Guernsey, it was mid summer and the flowers were out etc. I got up the following morning, my lips had swelled, I could hardly talk or breathe and my eyes were weeping red and sore. I do suffer from hay fever so I imagined that was the cause. I went to see the doctor and he took some tests but for some reason I didn't mention the bottom paint scraping. After a few days, it healed up but reflected on what happened. It wasn't hay fever, it was poisoning from toxic anti fouling bottom paint. I had been bitten up the backside!
It's been 10 years since I was living and sailing in the Caribbean but would be interested to know if this 'marine poison' is still sold at Island Waterworld? I couldn't see it on the website but perhaps only available in store. I always used to keep a 12 inch scraper on board, handy to dive overboard and scrape the waterline area in the bay.. If you have diving bottles, they come in handy too for a proper hull clean.
 

AntarcticPilot

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Some years ago, I kept a boat in the Caribbean, the waters are generally very clean but not this particular harbour due to lack of circulation. The hull bottom would very quickly foul up with any decent antifouling. Word had it that the best solution was a US brand available in Island Waterworld combined with a separate product Tin in a bottle - which I later found out is TBT (Tributylin) banned in Europe and the US. The company sold this product in the Caribbean only. TBT causes molluscs to change sex I gather. It worked well on the bottom but another season, word was it that there was a some red bottom paint used by the inter island ferries which was even more effective at keeping the bottom clean. I was in. A few years later, back in Guernsey GB, I decided it was time to strip back the layers of antifouling to gelcoat. I decided to do this myself using a combination of hand tools and orbital sander. It was a hellish job, really hard work and very messy. I wore a full zip suit and a proper mask recommended for this task. The paint dust still got everywhere, on the skin and face. Some days later, relieved to have finished, I was walking on the cliffs of Guernsey, it was mid summer and the flowers were out etc. I got up the following morning, my lips had swelled, I could hardly talk or breathe and my eyes were weeping red and sore. I do suffer from hay fever so I imagined that was the cause. I went to see the doctor and he took some tests but for some reason I didn't mention the bottom paint scraping. After a few days, it healed up but reflected on what happened. It wasn't hay fever, it was poisoning from toxic anti fouling bottom paint. I had been bitten up the backside!
It's been 10 years since I was living and sailing in the Caribbean but would be interested to know if this 'marine poison' is still sold at Island Waterworld? I couldn't see it on the website but perhaps only available in store. I always used to keep a 12 inch scraper on board, handy to dive overboard and scrape the waterline area in the bay.. If you have diving bottles, they come in handy too for a proper hull clean.
If it had been detected by the MCA, you could have been prosecuted for having TBT on the bottom of your boat, as its use in antifouling is banned by international treaty, and has been for many years. Your unfortunate affliction is part of the reason; the sex changes in invertebrates are the tip of the iceberg for environmental effects. The outfit that sold it to you probably sold it with a label in tiny print saying "Not for antifouling use" - the stuff has uses other than antifouling so it isn't illegal to sell it, but it is illegal to apply it to the bottom of a boat. The treaty is of the kind where it became international law once a certain number of countries ratified it, and is effective world-wide except in countries that registered an objection - and none did.
I used TBT based antifouling as a boy, before it was banned. I'm fortunate - it had no lasting effects on me, probably because we didn't dry sand it. I do remember needing to clean spills on skin off pronto, because it stang!
 

seansea

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If it had been detected by the MCA, you could have been prosecuted for having TBT on the bottom of your boat, as its use in antifouling is banned by international treaty, and has been for many years. Your unfortunate affliction is part of the reason; the sex changes in invertebrates are the tip of the iceberg for environmental effects. The outfit that sold it to you probably sold it with a label in tiny print saying "Not for antifouling use" - the stuff has uses other than antifouling so it isn't illegal to sell it, but it is illegal to apply it to the bottom of a boat. The treaty is of the kind where it became international law once a certain number of countries ratified it, and is effective world-wide except in countries that registered an objection - and none did.
I used TBT based antifouling as a boy, before it was banned. I'm fortunate - it had no lasting effects on me, probably because we didn't dry sand it. I do remember needing to clean spills on skin off pronto, because it stang!
It was definitely sold as an additive for antifouling paint. It was displayed right next to the paint in a chandlery store. Laws on sale of such products in Caribbean Islands is different to the UK. As I say this was a while ago.
 

Boater Sam

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Vast majority was dry scraped
You will of course die.

But then we all will.

I have been warned off so many products and materials after I have been exposed to them yet still manage to survive that I am now sceptical whether anything will kill me.
I have written this with my third hand and using my second head, my first head is still busy evaluating my sex.
 

thinwater

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a. you weren't suspicious of additive in a bottle that could not have been added to the paint at the factory?
b. It wasn't ... obvious that tin was probably TBT?
c. If you dry sand, use a vacuum sander. Common and required here.

When in doubt check the SDS and spec sheet. But perhaps pointless, because anyone that would sell TBT in a bottle is a liar.

But it seems the OP is hypersensative. TBT is bad in the environment, but not toxic enough to cause those reactions to a normal person with those protections.

Tin and Compounds | ToxFAQs™ | ATSDR
 

Neeves

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I'm sure that if cayenne pepper, or snake oil, was an effective active ingredient in AF then we would know (and pepper would be very expensive and snakes an endangered species).

A bit like silicone - it sounded good - but the market is still potential not realised.

Jonathan
 

KevinV

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a. you weren't suspicious of additive in a bottle that could not have been added to the paint at the factory?
b. It wasn't ... obvious that tin was probably TBT?
c. If you dry sand, use a vacuum sander. Common and required here.

When in doubt check the SDS and spec sheet. But perhaps pointless, because anyone that would sell TBT in a bottle is a liar.

But it seems the OP is hypersensative. TBT is bad in the environment, but not toxic enough to cause those reactions to a normal person with those protections.

Tin and Compounds | ToxFAQs™ | ATSDR
When I was out in the Caribbean 20 years ago I'd have sold my mother, sister, kidneys, first-born - anything to fend off the rampant growth. Back then there were "special" formulations in use locally that beat anything arriving from away - I dread to think what was in them, but needs must.

When I was out there this spring I noticed that coppercoat seems to do as good a job (if not better) now - without the beastly chemicals.
 

Sea Change

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We've spent over a year afloat on the Caribbean, and have very elderly Coppercoat (applied in 2008). In some high wear areas it's completely gone, and the fouling is very bad. Generally this is just at the waterline so quite easy to scrape clean. In other areas the CC is still doing a reasonable job.

Scraping the hull isn't the worst job in the world, in clean water and with plenty of marine life swimming around it can be quite pleasant, in short bursts.
 

thinwater

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When I was out in the Caribbean 20 years ago I'd have sold my mother, sister, kidneys, first-born - anything to fend off the rampant growth. Back then there were "special" formulations in use locally that beat anything arriving from away - I dread to think what was in them, but needs must.

When I was out there this spring I noticed that coppercoat seems to do as good a job (if not better) now - without the beastly chemicals.
TBT was banned in 2008, so we'll give you a bye on that. We didn't know what we didn't know.;)

But the US banned TBT in 1988 and Canada banned TBT in 1989. Well more than 20 years here. Though I will admit to using some old stock cans in the early 90s that were probably TBT. I didn't know ... but probably didn't research it too carefully.o_O A local commercial brand.
 

thinwater

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I seem to recall some friends buying ex-navy cyanide based antifouling at a boat jumble... (Edit: May have been arsenic, I know it was something lethal)
Obviously not cyanide (among other things, it is biodegradable and would last only a few days on the boat).

Arsenic was used historically, but probably not in the last 75 years, from what a quick search suggests. Do you have anything to back this up? I am and we are interested in the chemistry, but we need documents.
 

Geoff Wode

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You will of course die.

But then we all will.

I have been warned off so many products and materials after I have been exposed to them yet still manage to survive that I am now sceptical whether anything will kill me.
I have written this with my third hand and using my second head, my first head is still busy evaluating my sex.
Should be relatively easy if you have an odd number of genitals.
 

Iliade

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Obviously not cyanide (among other things, it is biodegradable and would last only a few days on the boat).

Arsenic was used historically, but probably not in the last 75 years, from what a quick search suggests. Do you have anything to back this up? I am and we are interested in the chemistry, but we need documents.
The stuff probably was that old! This was in the early nineties and we still had a lot of ex-wd stuff kicking about.
 
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