Environmental risk assessment of using antifouling paints on pleasure crafts in European Union waters
Journal article, 2021

The Authors To ensure sustainable use of antifouling paints, the European Union have developed a new environmental risk assessment tool, which a product must pass prior to its placement on the market. In this new tool, environmental concentrations are predicted based on estimated release rates of biocides to the aquatic environment and risk characterization ratios are calculated in regional spreadsheets. There are currently two methods in use to predict release rates of biocides; a calculation method and a laboratory method. These methods have been believed to overestimate environmental release of biocides and therefore fixed correction factors to reduce the release rate can be applied. An alternative method, known as the XRF method, has recently been developed and used to derive field release rates from antifouling paints. The aim of this study was to review the new environmental risk assessment tool and assess how the choice of release rate method and application of correction factors impact the approval of antifouling paint products. Eight coatings were environmentally risk assessed for usage in four European marine regions; Baltic, Baltic Transition, Atlantic and Mediterranean; by applying release rates of copper and zinc determined with the different methods. The results showed none of the coatings to pass the environmental risk assessment in the Baltic, Baltic Transition and the Mediterranean if field release rates were used. In contrast, most of the coatings passed if the correction factors were applied on the release rates obtained with the calculation or laboratory method. The results demonstrate the importance of release rate method choice on the outcome of antifouling product approval in EU. To reduce the impact of antifouling paints on the marine environment it is recommended that no correction factors should be allowed in the environmental risk assessment or preferably that site-specific field release rates are used. If the regulation in the European Union (and elsewhere) continues to allow correction factors, the pressure of biocides to the environment from leisure boating will result in degradation of marine ecosystems.

Environmental risk assessment

Antifouling paints


Release rate methods

European union waters

Coastal management


Erik Ytreberg

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Maritime Studies

Maria Lagerström

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Maritime Studies

Sofia Nöu

Ann Kristin E. Wiklund

Stockholm University

Journal of Environmental Management

0301-4797 (ISSN) 1095-8630 (eISSN)

Vol. 281 111846

Subject Categories

Other Environmental Engineering

Environmental Management

Environmental Sciences





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