As of this year, old generation antifoulings are banned. A study explains The characteristics of new green products.
2019 is an important date for the antifouling world. As of Jan. 1, old generation “polluting” antifoulings can no longer be applied, except by the do-it-yourself yachtsman who can apply old antifoulings he already owned.
But what happened in the process of evolving antifoulings toward a sea-friendly approach? The key moment in this evolution has been the total inhibition of the use of much of the deadly poisons, called biocides, such as TBT (tributyl-sta-gno) defined as the most potent toxic pollutant ever deliberately poured into the sea by man. Only in 2012 was it banned in Italy.
Today there are only a dozen biocide molecules with antifouling power allowed under the European regulation, which was launched in 2018. To give antifouling power, organometallic (copper and/or zinc) and organic (fungicides, bactericides, algaecides) components are essentially used. But today there are also alternatives, which does not mean they are automatically less polluting.
We used a French report by the agency “Finistere 360 degrees” in collaboration with the Biodiversity Agency and other transalpine institutions to carry out this analysis. Research has divided antifoulings into three types of products: copper-based paints (90 percent of the market), silicone-based paints, and adhesive films that are also silicone-based.
The two-year test was carried out both on the hulls of boats in the water with periodic sea outings and on static panels submerged in the harbor.
THE GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS
The study highlighted in general some elements, perhaps trivial, but useful to remember to improve the effectiveness of an antifouling.
The first element is that the longer the boat sails, the better the prolongation of the antifouling effect over time. In practice, the action of sliding the hull over the water in itself “cleans” the hull of organisms and wears away the outer layer of paint, renewing its initial barrier characteristics to the proliferation of organisms on the hull. At the end of the test, the panels that had been submerged stationary in the water were much more attacked by microorganisms than the hulls of the boats that had sailed.
The second item highlighted is that annual hull washing with a pressure washer, deep and at good pressure is a great way to prolong the effectiveness of antifouling, even doubling the life of the product.