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News Releases from HeadquartersChemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP)

EPA Administrator Wheeler Announces Proposed Action to Cancel Irgarol Uses

Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office

RUSKIN, Fla. (October 22, 2020) — At an event today in Ruskin, Fla., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that the agency is proposing to cancel certain uses of irgarol in order to better protect coral and other aquatic life. Irgarol is most often used in antifoulant paint that is applied to protect boat hulls.

“EPA is proposing to cancel the use of the biocide irgarol to better protect coral and other aquatic life,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Protecting the health of the plants and animals within our oceans, lake and rivers is a priority for EPA. There are less environmentally persistent alternatives to using irgarol for the boating industry, and our proposed action will better protect coral from the harmful effects of the compound.”

After completing an ecological risk assessment, EPA determined that irgarol, which is used in antifoulant paint and as a materials preservative in algicidal paints, is toxic to both freshwater and marine plants, including causing the bleaching of coral. To address these issues, EPA is proposing to cancel all uses of irgarol as an antifoulant paint through the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) registration review process. The agency will accept public comments on this proposed interim decision (PID) until December 22, 2020, in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2010-0003 at .

EPA’s proposed action is line with the International Maritime Organization’s 2025 proposed ban on irgarol uses for antifoulant paint. EPA has also worked with manufacturers to identify a number of alternatives to irgarol, including zinc pyrithione, tralopyril and DCOIT.

In addition, under EPA’s proposal, FIFRA registrants with products that include marine and freshwater antifoulant paint uses must request removal of those uses by Sept. 30, 2023. If the products are only registered with EPA for antifoulant paint uses, then registrants must submit a voluntary cancellation request by Sept. 30, 2023. EPA will actively work with registrants to make label amendments or product cancellations that reflect the phasing out of antifoulant paint use and existing stocks over the following two years.

This proposed interim decision (PID) is the next step in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) registration review process that EPA conducts at least every 15 years. After considering any comments concerning the PID, EPA will issue an interim decision, which finalizes mitigation measures to reduce the human health and ecological risks.

For additional information: Irgarol Proposed Interim Decision.