Antifouling paint is used to prevent algae, clams and barnacles attaching themselves to the hull of a boat. The paints may contain hazardous substances that make them dangerous to other marine life and plants as well. Two examples of such chemical substances are copper and zinc.
Some antifouling paints have a chemical action and are biocides. These must be authorised by the Swedish Chemicals Agency before they are allowed to be distributed for sale and usage. The label should state in which waters such paints are allowed to be used. There is also antifouling paint that has a physical action, such as providing a surface to which organisms cannot attach themselves. They are allowed to be distributed for sale and usage without authorisation by the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
The paint may contain solvents which are hazardous to health; they may, for example, give rise to a number of allergies. Instead of using toxic paint, you can clean the boat by hand/mechanical means a couple of times per season, using such methods as a high-pressure wash, brush wash or liquid-impregnated hull cloth. Barnacles are most easily removed straight after they have attached themselves to the hull.
Take care when painting or removing paint, and be sure to wear eye protection, protective clothing, gloves and a mask to protect you from paint and grinding dust. Collect all paint residue and grinding dust and hand this in to an environmental waste disposal station.
If you buy antifouling paint online, you are always entitled to receive hazard information about the product before purchase. Bear in mind that other countries might have other regulations, but that products which are to be used in Sweden must comply with Swedish legislation.