The American Coatings Association recently reported that California Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-78)  introduced AB 425, legislation related to copper-based antifouling coatings. The use of copper in antifouling paints has been targeted by many groups as contributing to adverse water conditions in certain California marinas.

The bill’s language proposes that no later than Feb. 1, 2014, California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) shall evaluate whether to register copper-based antifouling paint, and make recommendations for appropriate mitigation measures that may be implemented to address the protections of aquatic environments from the effects of exposure to that paint if it is registered as a pesticide. As part of that evaluation, the department shall determine a leach rate for copper-based antifouling paint used on recreational vessels.

Existing California law requires every manufacturer of, importer of, or dealer in any pesticide, except a person that sells any pesticide that has been registered by the manufacturer or wholesaler, to obtain a certificate of registration from DPR before the pesticide is offered for sale. California SB 623, introduced in a prior legislative session and deferred in June 2012, proposed to ban the use of copper in antifouling paint for use on pleasure craft.

ACA and its Antifouling Workgroup (AFWG), working with ACA’s California Paint Council successfully advocated against SB 623. The proposed measure mandated the outright ban of these coatings for recreational vessels after 2019, if the low-leach rate coatings did not appear to be reducing copper in marinas using Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for copper that must be met by 2022. It would also require manufacturers to use the least toxic alternative when replacing the copper in marine antifouling paint, even though such alternatives are not defined, and have not been proven as effective or as safe as the current copper-containing coatings. ACA’s efforts were successful in staving off a ban and deferring the legislation until now.

View the entire release online.