Antifouling paints by Australian yacht clubs release toxic elements into Swan river

Published: Wednesday 31 January 2007

-- Antifouling paints used by Australia's Perth yacht clubs are releasing toxic contaminants into the Swan river, notes a recent study by the Swan River Trust and the country's department of environment and conservation. The Swan flows across western Australia and is famed for yachting.

The study found that the antifouling paints, used by yachts to kill barnacles and weeds on the bottom of boats, had increased the toxic contaminant levels in the river almost 15,000 times more than the acceptable limits. Particularly, the chemical tributyltin (also known as tbt), is found at dangerous levels.tbt is the most toxic chemical ever to be deliberately released into a water body and has been banned in many countries as it causes deformities in marine species.

The authorities also found other metals like copper, zinc, mercury, nickel and lead in high doses in the Swan waters.In a statement, the Swan River Trust has said that the usage of the chemicals is in breach of state guidelines and has warned that violation will lead to penalties of up to us $25,000.

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