~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Tue, 5 May 98 13:18:00 GMT From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: Study: Barnacle paint still ki Study: Barnacle paint still kills otter EAST LANSING, Mich., May 4 (UPI) -- A researcher says a toxic chemical added to paint to keep barnacles off ship hulls may be killing sea otters along the California coast. A study by Michigan State University's Kurunthachalam (kur-AHN'-thah- CHA'-lam) Kannan links the chemical, TBT, to diseases that killed otters from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. Kannan tells UPI the chemical also may be entering the coastal Pacific Ocean food chain by leaching into the water from plastic pipes in California buildings. TBT -- short for tributylin -- settles on the ocean floor, where otters feed on mollusks and other shellfish. Kannan says each of the 40 otters studied had ingested TBT. Animals with the highest concentrations in their livers, brains and other organs died of diseases linked to weak immune systems. Others were killed by sharks or gunshots. Although Kannan says "40 animals is not enough to say something solidly" about the threat of TBT, he is convinced "it is causing problems for animals in the food chain." Kannan made waves a decade ago when he discovered a link between TBT and deadly diseases in bottlenose dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean. That prompted the government to ban its use in hull paint for small boats in 1989. But TBT is still allowed for ships and some international vessels that ply U.S. waters. And a closely related compound is an ingredient in plastic water pipes. Kannan says his study indicates the partial ban on TBT in hull paint has not protected marine life from its deadly consequences. Kannan, who is working with the U.S. Geological Survey on the otter project, hopes the latest data sparks more TBT studies. He says the issue deserves as much attention as the well-known environmental poisons DDT and PCBs. No one knows how long TBT lasts in the environment but Kannan estimates it takes 10 years to degrade. Kannan examined organs from otters collected in California bays from Montara Beach to Coal Oil Point. His study appears in the latest edition of Environmental Science and Technology.