Keywords: analytical methods, antifouling paints, ecotoxicology, chemistry, environmental monitoring, marine environment, ships hulls, biofouling, hull protection, risk evaluation, biocides, toxicity
New approaches for monitoring the marine environment: the case of antifouling paints
Protection of ships hulls against biofouling has been a problem since man began sailing the seas. The most common protections are specially produced antifouling paints. These paints could be broadly classified in three main groups, or generations, depending on the technology applied: first generation copper-based, second generation organotin-based, and the new, third generation, organotin-free antifouling paints. Most of these new paints contain biocides, and consequently are also toxic. To further complicate risk evaluations, synergistic effects occurred when mixtures were tested. Some researchers have pointed out the risk of employing these compounds without a deep knowledge of their environmental behaviour and their effects on marine communities. However, the transition from second to third generation antifoulings is now a reality. Therefore, in this paper, considerations on the chemical and ecotoxicological information required and proposals for approaches to deal with the new antifouling problems are discussed.