Antifouling paint and dust is hazardous – protect yourself and the environment

The British Coatings Federation (BCF), Royal Yachting Association and British Marine have teamed up to launch the DIY Safe Antifouling Initiative 2017.

The objective of the initiative, which will be officially launched to coincide with the London Boat Show in January, is to inform and educate boat owners with regard to the hazards associated with antifouling their boats.

DIY antifouling paint products now have to pass new regulations related to biocidal products across the European market, which will challenge the established view that boat owners use antifouling paints in a responsible way, following the label instructions and wearing appropriate protective clothing.

The implications for boat owners are significant, with potential restrictions on the sale of antifoulings. This will increase costs and potentially threaten UK waters with an increase in the translocation of invasive species due to a lack of effective fouling control, if boat owners decided to no longer use antifouling paint.

BCF regulatory affairs manager Trevor Fielding said: ‘We are proud to launch this initiative, with the support of British Marine and the RYA, to make sure that boat owners have the correct safety information and guidance to hand. The safe use of our members’ products is of paramount importance, and this can be achieved through the correct use of personal protective equipment and other risk mitigation measures.

‘This needs to be demonstrated to the authorities, to ensure that these products successfully pass the forthcoming authorisation process, and remain available for the DIY enthusiast to use in years to come.’

The new initiative highlights the importance of using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as overalls, goggles, gloves and face masks to minimise skin contact and avoid breathing dust. Free reference tools can be found at


Sparked by a survey

The initiative has been driven by the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken on the DIY use of antifouling paints in the UK, carried out by the BCF last year.

Just under 2,500 boat owners took part, of whom the vast majority paint their own boats with antifouling annually.

The results found that more than 90% of boat owners were taking the correct precautions but highlighted several areas for improvements, including the provision of training courses, better guidance on preparing the boat and disposing of waste paint, and further efforts that could be made to minimise the risks of skin contact with antifouling paint during its application.