Tributyltin (TBT) is the active agent in many biocides. It has been used throughout the world as an antifoulant paint on ship and boat hulls, fishnets and buoys, and docks, to discourage the growth of marine organisms (e.g. barnacles, tubeworms, mussels, bacteria and algae). Other TBT compounds (collectively referred to as ‘organotins’) are used as wood preservatives, disinfectants, and stabilizers in PVC resin, and in pulp and paper mills, breweries, leather-processing plants and textile mills. The use of TBT in antifouling paints may affect nontarget aquatic organisms (e.g. mussels, clams, and oysters) causing changes in their structure and growth [2]. In some gastropod species, TBT exposure causes imposex. TBT is also extremely toxic to crustaceans [3]. The use of organotins is now restricted or prohibited in most countries.

  1. See page 8.1-20 of ANZECC/ARMCANZ (October 2000) Australian Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality.
  2. Michigan Department of Natural Resources ‘Fact Sheet on Tributyltin Compounds.’ April 24, 1987
  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Office of Pesticide Programs. Tributyltin support document. 1985.
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