WASHINGTON - The issue of biocide marine antifouling coatings has become the top environmental regulatory issue for that segment of the industry. With the worldwide ban of tributyltin or TBT as a biocide, the industry has looked to copper as a substitute. Now this, too, is coming under pressure, with clean-water authorities in the United States and Europe pushing the industry to develop biocide-free antifouling coatings, such as biocide-free foul-release coatings to which foulants cannot adhere.

The NPCA, Washington, has formed an Antifouling Coatings Work Group to address this matter domestically. Additionally, an Antifouling Work Group has been established under the Marine Coatings Product Oriented Group, which operates under the auspices of the International Paint and Printing Ink Council (IPPIC).

In March 2007, to further its reach in this area, IPPIC through NPCA will file for official NGO status on the U.N. International Maritime Organization (IMO). IPPIC already has NGO status with the United Nations itself.

The IMO is the primary international body regulating environmental issues associated with shipping and antifouling coatings in particular. In its treaty banning the use of TBT, it also established the formal process for reviewing other antifouling coatings for restrictions. This is among the major reasons for seeking NGO status with it.

NPCA members are invited to contact NPCA's Jim Sell at jsell@paint.org for more information.