Flawed risk assessment of antifouling paints leads to exceedance of guideline values in Baltic Sea marinas
Journal article, 2020
The seasonal variations of dissolved and bioavailable copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) were studied in two recreational marinas in Sweden and Finland. The time series from the two marinas were characterized by rising concentrations during the spring boat launching, elevated concentrations all through the peak boating season, and decreasing concentrations in autumn when boats were retrieved for winter storage. This pattern shows a clear link between Cu and Zn concentrations and boating activity, with antifouling paints as the principal source. The leaching from antifouling paints was also found to significantly alter the speciation of dissolved Cu and Zn in marina waters, with an increase of the proportion of metals that may be considered bioavailable. This change in speciation, which occurred without any change in dissolved organic carbon (DOC), further increases the environmental risk posed by antifouling paints. In the Swedish marina, dissolved Cu and Zn exceed both Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) and Predicted No Effect Concentrations (PNEC), indicating that the current Swedish risk assessment (RA) of antifouling paints is failing to adequately protect the marine environment. An evaluation of the RA performance showed the underlying cause to be an underestimation of the predicted environmental concentration (PEC) by factors of 2 and 5 for Cu and Zn, respectively. For both metals, the use of inaccurate release rates for the PEC derivation was found to be either mainly (Cu) or partly (Zn) responsible for the underestimation. For Zn, the largest source of error seems to be the use of an inappropriate partitioning coefficient (KD) in the model. To ensure that the use of antifouling coatings does not adversely impact the sensitive Baltic Sea, it is thus recommended that the KD value for Zn is revised and that representative release rates are used in the RA procedure.