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    Community Service: FUOYE don urges govt to enforce ban of ‘organotin’ compounds in African blue economy

    …warns that continued use of this chemical is dangerous to marine and human well being

    By Wole Balogun
    S.A Media to VC

    Olushola S. Ayanda, an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), has advocated for the need to urgently enforce the prohibition of anti-fouling compounds in Africa’s blue economy so as to halt its contamination of human and marine environment.

    Speaking on Live Conversation with Maritime TV Africa anchored by Ezinne Azunna, the FUOYE don highlights the adverse effects of organotin-based antifouling paints to aquatic life, humans and the ecosystem. The need to enforce the ban of organotins with stringent rules and policies, and constant monitoring of Africa’s water ways were discussed.

    He explained organotin as chemicals added paints to kill organisms that grow or attach itself to marine ships and vessels.

    Speaking further about what organotin compounds are and why they have been made comfortable within the maritime sector. OS Ayanda said, “organotin compounds are chemical compounds based on tin with hydrocarbon substituent used in the manufacturing industries, especially the antifouling paint industries. These paints are used to prevent the growth of fouling organisms on marine structures and vessels, however, they are exceptional toxic, persist in the environment, may interfere with biological processes and as a result, they have been banned in many countries around the world. The application of organotin-based antifouling paints results in a large amount of savings for the shipping industry. Therefore, it won’t be easy to let go of such potent chemical compounds. Also due to insufficient or no data on the contamination of organotins in Africa, stakeholders and government might have possibly neglected this menace.” He added that organotin compounds are also used as pesticides and fungicides, therefore, run-off of organotins used in agriculture also account for the presence of organotin accumulation in the environment.

    On the hazard caused by organotin compounds to aquatic life and human life, OS Ayanda stressed, “a consequence of the effectiveness of organotin antifoulants is their exceptional toxicity to nontarget marine organisms. High concentrations of organotin compounds are associated with growth abnormalities in mussels and oysters and have also resulted to the decline in their abundance. Organotin compounds have also been found in the tissues of marine mammals and its presence has been linked to mass mortalities of marine mammals. It causes imposex (abnormal induction of male sex characteristics in female marine invertebrates) and calcification anomalities in mollusks. Organotins have produced adverse effects on the skin, eyes, gastrointestinal tract, liver, bile duct, kidney, central nervous system, reproductive tracts, and chromosomes of sea animals. And in Human, seafood is thought to be a possible source of organotin compounds. Occupational exposure is also a likely point of exposure to organotins, they could be inhaled in commercial/industrial work environments where organotins are produced or used.”

    Speaking on how African countries have responded to the ban of organotin compounds. OS Ayanda stated that African countries have not responded well to the ban. He said, “because of the highly toxic effect of organotin compounds on the marine environment, organotins restrictions apply in many countries around the world. The International Marine Organization (IMO) prohibited the use of organotins as antifouling biocides after 1st January 2008. Although tightened controls on the application of organotin antifouling paints to small vessels have been positive in reducing the organotin load to the environment, organotin paints are still applied to large shipping vessels, while it is still widely produced and used in the third world countries. With the paint industry that is scarcely regulated and monitored here in Nigeria and some parts of Africa, the analysis of organotin compounds in marine water (at the harbor) might provide horrific results. Not only marine water but our surface and underground water.”

    While speaking on the treatment of contaminated water and how nations can begin to reverse the situation. Associate Professor OS Ayanda explained, “the treatment of organotin compounds at the harbor before discharge will go a long way to minimizing organotins contamination in the marine environments. Studies have shown that the remediation of organotin could be achieved by a number of different processes ranging from conventional biological treatment to advanced techniques. Our lab has employ the use of nanomaterials to remove organotin compounds from marine wastewater and we have achieved > 99% removal. However, prohibition is the best option. The time to put a stop to this contamination is now. The populace should be well-informed of the adverse effects and the need to put an end to the use of organotins. The production, sales and use of organotins should be banned outrightly. Monitoring and constant check of organotins in our water ways is important, to obtain data to guide the government in policies and regulations.”

    On how the marine sector could benefit from his research, OS Ayanda said, “In our lab, we work on the use of nanomaterials and the advanced oxidation treatment techniques to treat pollutants. The marine sector could benefit, once we are able to identify the various pollutants generated by this industry and design applicable treatment techniques to remove them from source (before discharge of this waste into the marine environment) the marine animals and even humans would be protected and be safe.”

    He thanked the Vice-Chancellor of the Institution, Prof Abayomi S Fasina for creating the enabling environment for academic excellence to thrive at the Federal University Oye-Ekiti.

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