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Environ Monit Assess. 2012 Mar;184(3):1781-99. doi: 10.1007/s10661-011-2078-7. Epub 2011 May 5.

Organotin contamination in South American coastal areas.

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  • 1Laboratório de Microcontaminantes Orgânicos e Ecotoxicologia Aquática, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Rio Grande, RS, Brazil.


Organotin compounds (OTs) were used in antifouling paints for more than four decades. However, due to their widespread intensive use and high toxicity, undesirable effects in non-target marine organisms have been detected since the early 1980s. Consequently, the International Maritime Organization banned new maritime applications of these products on January 1, 2003 and their presence on ship hulls from January 1, 2008. Although extensively studied in Europe, North America, Oceania, and Asia, environmental levels and effects of organotin contamination are still poorly known for South America. Thus, the current review aimed to present the actual status of this problem in South America by summarizing and comparing the available data in the literature. An overview of the OTs concentrations in sediment and biota and their effects, mainly imposex in marine gastropods, are presented. This work showed that in Atlantic coastal areas of South America there are "hot spots" of OTs contamination, similar to that observed in industrialized countries of Northern Hemisphere. On the other hand, the number of accomplished studies in the Pacific coast is extremely low. Despite the limitation on studies about OTs environmental levels and their related effects, the available data pointed out for a widespread TBT contamination along the South American coastal areas. Therefore, the establishment of baselines of organotin contamination in the Pacific coast and the implementation of temporal trend studies in the South American coastal areas is crucial to verify the effectiveness of local regulations and OTs global ban, and to map the most sensitive areas related to present and future antifouling impacts.

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