Boaters and the Environment

The Environment Fire Extinguishers Batteries Detergents Anti-Fouling Paints
Erosion Cleaning & Refurbishing Supplies Signal Flares Preventing Erosion

Ozone Depletion A portion of local water pollution comes from acids, oils, antifreeze, gasoline, solvents, and cleaners that boaters use. Many common items used daily by boaters are considered hazardous or toxic. As an environmentally aware boater, please minimize your use of toxic materials while maintaining your boat. Some toxic or hazardous materials are suspected carcinogens and can produce cancer in both humans and wildlife. Proper disposal of hazardous products is especially important in shallow lakes that have a large population of residences and boats. The toxins are in greater concentration and have a greater impact on the environment.

If you don't make environmentally conscious decisions when purchasing boating equipment, you could be contributing to pollution. The use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) has been prevalent in the production of various equipment utilized while boating. Chlorofluorocarbons are gases that are depleting BASF Zone 3 Logo the earth's ozone layer, which is widely believed to contribute to global warming and increased risk of skin cancer. Stingray uses only ozone friendly flotation foams made by BASF. Ask vendors if CFC's are used in the manufacturing of their product, or if CFC's are released when using the product. If they do not know, ask them to find out. Most manufacturers who have switched to CFC alternatives are very vocal about using them. Those who don't utilize CFC alternatives need to know that this is an important issue which concerns environmentally aware consumers.

When fire extinguishers become exhausted or dated, many fire extinguisher supply companies offer recycling of them. Halon, CO2, wet and dry chemical extinguisher parts can be recycled at no charge. The metal nozzles and other parts are sorted for recycling. The remaining chemical inside the extinguisher is also properly recycled. Fire

Be aware when purchasing fire extinguishers containing halon gas. If you purchase a halon extinguisher, you may be contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer. At one time, halons and CFC's were considered harmless, so manufacturers used them in many different products as propellants. Unfortunately, these halons will eventually attack the ozone layer, even if the fire extinguishers are never used since the ozone-depleting gases gradually leak into the atmosphere.

CO2-type extinguishers cannot really be reused since the extinguishers are loaded with a CO2 liquid which comes out as a gas when the extinguisher is used. CO2 is not harmful to the environment unless a large amount is released at one time. Recharging of non-halon fire extinguishers can also be performed by fire extinguisher suppliers for a nominal fee.

Marine batteries can be harmful to the environment if they are simply thrown away. The internal chemicals can be toxic if released. The energy saved to create a new battery from a recycled one, as opposed to creating one from scratch, is about 95%. Old batteries (in most states) may be turned in at local recycling centers.

Phosphates, chemical compounds containing phosphorus, are found in most detergents. Manufacturers use them because they soften water and prevent dirt particles from being redeposited on whatever you are cleaning. Unfortunately, there are severe ecological side effects. As phosphates empty into streams and lakes, they cause algae bloom, which means that they fertilize algae to the point where it grows out of control. When algae dies (in its natural cycle), the bacteria that causes it to decay (a process requiring large amounts of oxygen) uses up the oxygen needed by other plants and marine life to survive. Detergents/Cleaning Supplies This results in the dying of lakes and streams. According to Consumer Reports magazine, some manufacturers recommend more detergent than necessary. Use non-phosphate detergents and a little extra muscle instead of harsh and toxic teak and hull cleaners. Liquid detergents are generally phosphate-free. Use a substitute for detergent. Soap, which is biodegradable, non-polluting, and non-toxic, is an excellent alternative. If your water is soft, soap powder will work as well as a detergent. If your water is hard, you can try a combination of soap and washing soda. Soap also works best in hot water. Use a drop cloth to catch paint scrapings or wipe them up and dispose of them on shore. Be careful if you are working on or near the water. Wipe up any spills from oil changes as soon as they occur. Try to keep the use of engine cleaners to a minimum. Phosphates are not necessary. Powdered detergents are available that are made with different formulas which are less than 0.5% phosphates.

Anti-fouling paint is used to prevent the growth of organisms on boat bottoms. These paints work by releasing toxic chemicals from the hull into the water. Generally, the more effective the paint, the more toxic its ingredients. Copper-based paints usually keep a hull clear for a year or more and contain a less toxic metallic compound which enables them to not cause as much damage to aquatic life. However, copper-based paints corrode aluminum. Avoid the newer tin-based paints such as Tributyltin (TBT). TBT is one of the most toxic chemicals introduced into the environment. It has now been found to cause abnormal development and reduced reproduction in aquatic life, not to mention its relation to many human health problems. It is illegal to use TBT on water craft less than 66 feet in length unless it is being applied to an aluminum boat. Since TBT is under restricted use, it can only be applied by certified applicators. For further information on becoming a certified applicator, contact the Pesticides Regulations Section in your state. Low level TBT paint, sold in a spray can form, may still be used on lower drive units. All paints should be used with extreme caution and according to the manufacturer's directions.

Lacquers, wood preservatives, turpentine, thinners, and other cleaners can be toxic unless they are used and disposed of properly. Please read the labels. Many products are available for cleaning decks and topsides. Their toxicities vary widely. Careful use of these cleaners is essential to keep them from washing overboard. It is best to not use these products when the boat is on the water. Many environmentally safe cleaning products are now available at local marine supply stores. A teak cleaner that is non-acidic, caustic free, chlorine-free, biodegradable, and safe if washed into the water. A bilge cleaner that is caustic-free, phosphate-free, non-flammable, non-combustible, and biodegradable has also been developed. A biodegradable, non-flammable, non-combustible, highly concentrated, phosphate-free, vinyl shampoo that will not harm the water has also been made available to boaters.

When signal flares are expired, take them to your local fire department for proper disposal. The flares may still be volatile after the expiration date. Simply depositing them in the trash could lead to a hazardous situation.

FOLLOW THESE TIPS WHILE USING HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TO KEEP AMERICAS WATER RESOURCES CLEAN AND HEALTHY: Try to find alternatives for some of the hazardous products that you use. Use biodegradable and low phosphate products when possible. Use turpentine or brush cleaners more than once before disposing of them properly. Draining off the clearer portion of turpentine and paint thinner after allowing the dirty portion to settle, facilitates reusing the solvents. Seal and store the unused portion of the hazardous material for later use or disposal. NEVER THROW IT OVERBOARD! Share supplies with fellow boaters...but make it your responsibility to always dispose of hazardous materials properly. If there is something hazardous that you must use, make it a practice to buy only what you need.

At first glance, erosion and boating don't seem to have much in common, but take a second look. Erosion of our shores and beaches is happening, and as a boater, you can help minimize the problem. If you frequent shallow waters of six feet or less, you can avoid damaging the ecosystem by going slowly Beach Erosion through these areas. By proceeding under power at a slower speed, you will stir up a lot less sediment. Scientists say that the frequent stirring up of sediments in shallow waters interrupts the natural life cycle of some plants and animals on which larger game fish feed. Furthermore, some of those stirred-up sediments are rich in chemicals that feed on algae blooms, which also can be deadly to fish. Boat wakes, the wave action created by a moving water craft, not only stir up sediment, but can also erode the banks of rivers, coves, and other confined waters. That eroded material settles in deeper channels, eventually requiring expensive dredging or, worse, keeping any boaters from enjoying these backwaters.

Help to prevent shoreline erosion by reducing your wake. Reduce your boat speed before approaching buoy markers or when navigating close to shore. Obey "NO WAKE" zones. You are responsible for your WAKE, it's the law. Many boating areas have unmarked "SHORE ZONES" where boaters are required to operate at "NO WAKE" or idle speed. These zones can vary greatly. Know the rules at your favorite boating areas.



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