Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Boat paint to blame for Norfolk Broads' desolation

20.09.2006
One of the main culprits behind an environmental catastrophe that desolated one of Britain's most important wildlife habitats has finally been identified in a study led by researchers from UCL (University College London) and Acroloxus Wetlands Consultancy Ltd, Canada.

In the current issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, they reveal that introduction of the compound tributyltin (TBT) as a biocide in boat paint in the 1960s resulted in a dramatic and sudden loss of aquatic vegetation from most of the 50 or so Norfolk Broads lakes.

At the time, scientists pointed the finger at contamination from sewage works and fertiliser run-off from farmland, despite suggestions from the local community that the burgeoning leisure boating industry might be to blame.

Though the use of TBT was banned in freshwater systems in the UK in 1987, the researchers say 40 years on from TBT's introduction the fragile ecosystem remains shattered despite expensive attempts to restore it.

Dr Carl Sayer, of the UCL Environmental Change Research Centre, who co-led the study, says: "For too long TBT has been neglected as a driver of environmental destruction in freshwater wetlands and even though it is no longer in use in UK inland waterways, TBT contamination and its negative effects are still being reported all over the world.

"Real concerns have been raised about TBT derived from industrial and ship breaking activities in several major river systems including the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Yangtze – all of which are connected to shallow lakes. In the case of the Yangtze, the linked shallow lakes are some of the largest in the world and, like the Broads, have experienced problems with plant loss on a large scale."

TBT was originally designed for use on the hulls of large ocean-going ships to reduce the build-up of barnacles. Since the 1970s it has been linked to a host of negative effects in the marine environment including mutations in shellfish. An aggressive marketing programme in the 1960s saw its use fashionably worldwide on much smaller craft both in the oceans and within inland waterways.

"TBT is extremely toxic and highly persistent in the environment, earning it the controversial title as the most toxic substance ever introduced deliberately by man into the aquatic environment," explains Dr Sayer.

"In freshwaters, once TBT is released from an antifouling coating it is rapidly absorbed by bacteria and algae, and eventually works its way up the food chain. Within a short period of time after the paint's introduction to the Broads, it knocked out many of the small invertebrates which are a part of the life support system for water plants – turning the waters of the Broads green with algae."

To investigate levels of TBT in the Broads the researchers took sediment cores from two lakes, one close to the centre of the boating industry and the other half a kilometre away. Results show an abrupt decline in plant and invertebrate populations at the precise time that a strong TBT signature was detected.

"The irony of the tale is that the paint was designed to stop barnacles attaching to boats – which you don't get in freshwater. By simply lifting boats out of the water once a year and using a bit of elbow grease, one of Britain's areas of outstanding natural beauty might still be intact rather than on the long road to recovery."

Judith H Moore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>