There are boat paints called 'antifouling' paints that can help keep your boat free of plants and animals. But there are some risks with using these paints.
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Antifouling paints have special chemicals in them to stop plants and animals growing on the boats. These paints are useful because they help the boats run more efficiently and safely, and they stop pests from spreading around New Zealand’s coast. But the paints can be toxic. They can make you sick and hurt your skin or eyes if they get on you. They can also kill other plants and animals that they come in contact with.
How to use antifouling paint safely
Removing old paint from boats
The paint you scrape off your boat can also be toxic. When you are removing paint from your boat:
- wear chemical-resistant gloves, coveralls, and goggles
- if you are using a scraper, put a tarpaulin or drop sheet under where you are working to collect paint scrapings and sweep or vacuum when you are done
- if you are wet sanding, put booms around your work area – once the area is dry, collect the paint residue.
Getting rid of the old paint
You can’t just put the old paint scrapings in your usual council rubbish bins. You will need to have a plan for how you will dispose of it before you start.
Check if your marina has some way of dealing with the old paint. Otherwise, contact your regional council for information on hazardous waste landfills in your area.
Before you start painting
Read the paint's label to learn how to use it safely. You can also ask for a 'safety data sheet' at the store where you buy your paint. This will give you even more information about how to work safely with the paint.
Set up a ‘controlled work area’. This is an place where nobody can get in without you knowing. You must:
- make sure paint can’t get out of this area (Your marina may have a dry dock set up for this job, or you may need to put up panels or tarpaulins.)
- put up a sign to warn other people if you will be spraying the paint. Make sure the sign is in a place where people will read it and is easy to read. The sign needs to make it clear that the paint is toxic and that people need to wear special clothing if they want to come into the area.
This is a job for adults only. Keep children well away.
Applying the paint
Keep yourself and others safe by:
- wearing goggles, full body coveralls, covered shoes, and chemical-resistant gloves when working with the paint (If you are spraying the paint, rather than using a brush or roller, or painting in a place that doesn't get much fresh air, you should also wear breathing equipment.)
- making sure nobody comes near while you are painting
- not painting when it's windy.
Learn about our 2013 review of antifouling paints
In 2013, we had a very careful look at all the rules for antifouling paints, including what paints should be sold in New Zealand. We spoke to a wide range of people and groups to understand how these paints are used, and the risks and benefits they bring. This consultation included:
- the paint industry
- the marine industry
- commercial boat users
- recreational boat users
- regional councils
- other government agencies.
After taking everyone’s view into account, we decided to make many changes to the rules for antifouling paints. We decided some antifouling paints should not be used anymore, and others should only be allowed for a few more years. We also set new rules for how the paint is made, imported, applied and thrown away.
Read the reassessment decision (pdf, 976 KB).
The rules for antifouling paints
The rules for antifouling paints were changed in 2013 to make it safer for people and for the environment. You should make sure you know the rules for how the paint is manufactured and imported and how you dispose of old antifouling paint and apply your new paint.