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US Regulation related to elemental species: TBT

Organotin Antifouling Paint Control Act
This Act, Organotin Antifouling Paint Control (33 U.S.C. 2401), as amended -- Public Law 100-333, approved June 16, 1988 (102 Stat. 605) prohibits the use of antifouling paints containing organotin (TBT) on vessels that are 25 meters or less in length, unless the vessel hull is aluminum.

The Environmental Protection Agency is required to certify that each antifouling paint containing organotin does not release more than 4.0 micrograms per square centimeter per day. Additionally, EPA was to issue final water quality criteria for organotin compounds by September 1, 1988.

Five years after enactment of this law, the agency is to report to Congress concerning the effectiveness of this law, compliance with water quality criteria, and recommendations for additional protective measures.

Over a 10 year period and in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, EPA is to monitor organotin concentrations in aquatic organisms and water column sediments of representative U.S. estuaries.

The Navy is required to periodically test waters serving as the home port for any Navy vessel(s) to determine the level of organotin contamination.

The Navy and EPA are directed to cooperatively conduct research on chemical and non-chemical alternatives to organotin antifouling paints, and to provide their findings to Congress 4 years after enactment of this law.

The Act allowed the sale of existing stocks of organotin paint up to 6 months after enactment, and the use of existing stocks for up to 1 year. The Act also establishes civil penalties for violation of this law.

Public Law 104-106, approved February 10, 1996, (110 Stat. 445) provides that the Secretary of the Navy, in consultation with the Administrator of the EPA, develop and implement a program to monitor the concentrations of organotin in the water column, sediments, and aquatic organisms of representative estuaries and near-coastal waters in the United States.

Ambient Aquatic Life Water Quality Criteria for Tributyltin

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, USEPA, published in December 2003 Ambient Aquatic Life Water Quality Criteria for Tributyltin. According to this document, the USEPA’s criterion for chronic effects in freshwater is 72 nanograms per litre (72 ng/l) and the criterion for acute toxic effects 460 nanograms per litre (460 ng/l). In oceanic sea water the corresponding criterion for chronic effects is 7.4 nanograms per litre (7.4 ng/l) and the criterion for acute toxic effects 420 nanograms per litre (420 ng/l). These criteria can form the basis for state and tribal water quality standards.

TBT is extremely toxic to aquatic life and is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that causes severe reproductive effects in aquatic organisms. TBT is extremely stable and resistant to natural degradation in water. Because of its chemical properties and widespread use as an antifouling agent, concerns have been raised over the risks it poses to both freshwater and saltwater organisms. Canada has been conducting research to characterize the occurrence, persistence and fate of TBT in the Great Lakes (EPA Binational Strategy Website)

Related Information

US EPA: Aquatic Life Criteria for Tributyltin (TBT)
US Office of the Law Revision Counsel: Organotin Antifouling Paint Control Act
US Legislation

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 The Role of Speciation in Legislation

last time modified: June 15, 2020


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