EPA Seeks Comments on Copper Toxicity Test


The federal agency responsible for protecting human health and the environment is seeking public comment on water quality criteria that includes a copper toxicity testing method relevant to the use of antifouling paints.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed test method, called the saltwater biotic ligand model (BLM), has the potential to benefit boaters and marinas facing strict regulation of copper-based antifouling paint, the National Marine Manufacturers Association said in a statement Friday (Aug. 5).

Moreover, the test is expected to be of particular interest in California, where regulators have set strict limits on dissolved copper in Marina del Rey and other basins, leading to restrictions on the use of copper-based paint, NMMA noted.

If approved, BLM would provide a cost-effective scientific tool to determine copper toxicity in site-specific locations, thereby avoiding implementing mitigation measures where they are not needed, it explained.

The NMMA is a trade association representing boat, marine engine and accessory manufacturers.

EPA Water Quality Criteria

In a Fact Sheet on the new water quality criteria proposal, the EPA notes that antifouling paints are a major source of copper in marine environments, as they are used as coating for ship hulls, buoys and underwater surfaces.

Although copper is an essential nutrient to aquatic organisms at low concentrations, EPA explains, it is toxic to aquatic organisms at higher concentrations.

Chronic exposure to copper can lead to adverse effects on survival, growth and reproduction and also alter brain function, enzyme activity, blood chemistry and metabolism in aquatic organisms.

In the Federal Register Request for Scientific Views, the agency says updating its Draft Aquatic Life Ambient Estuarine/Marine Water Quality Criteria for Copper—2016 to incorporate the BLM should help to protect “aquatic life in and around coastal harbors and marinas, where antifouling paints and coatings on vessels and marine structures represent one of the most commonly identified sources of copper to the estuarine/marine environment.”

Public Comment Period

The 60-day comment period opened July 29 with publication in the Federal Register and will close Sept. 27.

Additional detail and instructions on how to file comments are available here.

At the close of the comment period, the EPA will consider the comments, revise the document, as appropriate, and then publish a final document that will provide recommendations for states and authorized tribes to establish water quality standards under the Clean Water Act, it says.


Tagged categories: Antifoulants; Clean Water Act; Coating Materials; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Laboratory testing; Marine; Marine Coatings; North America; Offshore; Toxicity

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