The Swedish Chemicals Agency (KemI) has conducted an overview of antifouling paints containing high levels of zinc oxide and after investigations determined that the paints have a chemical effect. This means that they need to be authorised by KemI before they can be sold in Sweden.
Zinc oxide-based antifouling products have for years been marketed without being authorised by the Swedish Chemicals Agency. The companies have argued that the colours are subject to a derogation from the authorisation requirement because the colours have been reported to only have a physical effect on fouling organisms.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency believes that zinc oxide in certain concentrations also has a chemical effect since it is toxic to fouling organisms.
Antifouling paints are pesticides
Pesticides such as antifouling products are intended to be effective against living organisms and can pose risks to human health and the environment. Antifouling paints are pesticides because they are designed to counteract fouling on boats.
Most antifouling paints containing high levels of zinc oxide will disappear from the market in the spring of 2012. The Swedish Chemicals Agency has informed individual companies that decisions on fines will be taken if the sale continues. Most companies have since announced that they will stop selling the products.
The paints may still be available in retail
The enforcement project made by the Swedish Chemicals Agency is solely aimed at primary suppliers, i.e. manufacturers and importers. The products may still be available in retail. Municipalities are responsible for supervising this issue and ensuring that products are taken off the shelves. All sales and uses of chemical pesticides are still prohibited if products haven’t been authorised.