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Release Date: 06/20/97
Contact Information:


Al Heier 202-260-4374

EPA sent a report to Congress on May 30, detailing the status of environmental
monitoring for tributyltin (TBT), an organometallic pesticide used in boat-bottom
paint to prevent growth of fouling marine organisms.  TBT antifouling paints and
their adverse effects on the environment are the target of Organotin Antifouling
Paint Control Act (OAPCA) of  l988 and other federal and state restrictions.
TBT has been shown to cause reproductive and other adverse effects to shellfish
and other non-target aquatic organisms at very low levels.  OAPCA requires that
EPA and the Navy report annually on monitoring; this particular report also
includes the results of research into chemical and nonchemical alternatives to
TBT, and EPA’s evaluation of the effectiveness of laws and regulations in reducing
the risks of TBT.  Both EPA and the Navy have concluded that the TBT levels in the
water column are dropping.  Despite this decline, EPA reported that the levels are
still too high.  The status of TBT levels in the sediment,
where many affected species dwell, is less certain.  The reduction of TBT
concentrations in domestic waters is due to restrictions on the use of anti-fouling
paints in the United States:  use is prohibited on non-aluminum hulls and vessels
less than 82 feet in length; a limit has been established on the release rate of
TBT from paint; application is limited to applicators specifically trained and
certified (or to persons under their direct supervision); and a requirement
that all paint waste be disposed in sanitary landfills and not in the water.
The Navy no longer uses TBT antifouling paints.  The continued hazard TBT poses
is tied to remaining domestic use and to the use of TBT on ocean-going vessels
which are painted overseas and which travel to American ports.  EPA has determined
that additional restrictions are need to reduce levels in water and suggests to
Congress that the manufacture and use of TBT anti-fouling paints be phased out in
this country, to be replaced by safer alternatives.  Some alternatives are currently
available and others are being developed.  EPA is cooperating with the International
Maritime Organization on a proposal for a global phase-out and is refining its TBT
risk assessment for use in pursuing appropriate action under the Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.