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Environ Manage. 2007 Mar;39(3):423-41. Epub 2007 Jan 24.

Managing the use of copper-based antifouling paints.

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Copper is the biocide of choice for present-day antifouling (AF) paints. It is also a major source of copper loading in to the marine environment and, as such, might cause local copper levels to exceed water quality criteria. The present study is multifaceted and looks into the overall impact of copper-based AF paints on copper concentrations along a 64-km stretch of the Indian River Lagoon and at Port Canaveral, Florida. This preliminary study is one of the first to outline issues and present background evidence on the current status of copper and copper-based AF usage in Florida and to address the need for management. Previous measurements of copper levels in these waters show a history of copper contamination close to marinas, boatyards, and at Port Canaveral that often exceed state and federal water quality standards. Further, we estimate that the total annual copper input into the Indian River Lagoon is between 1.7 tons/year (sailboats) and 2.1 tons/year (powerboats) from boats in 14 marinas. We estimate the copper input into Port Canaveral to be about 1.4 tons/year from seven cruise ships. A brief survey of marina operators and boat owners revealed attitudes and practices associated with AF paint usage that ranged from excellent to inferior. Management recommendations are made for a proactive approach to improving AF paint selection and application, assessing the environmental status of copper, and redefining existing management practices for sustainable AF paint usage and environmental health.

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