Organotins and Imposex in Europe: A Pre-ban and Post-ban Perspective

  • Ana Catarina A. SousaEmail author
  • M. Ramiro Pastorinho


The use of tributyltin (TBT) and, to a lesser extent, triphenyltin (TPT) as biocides in antifouling paint formulations during the last decades of the twentieth century was responsible for the global contamination of the coastal and offshore areas of the European aquatic environment. This widespread contamination was responsible for extensive deleterious effects in nontarget organisms particularly in gastropods, which, as a consequence of TBT exposure, developed imposex in a dose-dependent manner. Over the last decades, more than 20 gastropod species registering the occurrence of imposex were used by European researchers to ascertain the degree of TBT pollution in the European coastal and marine environment. In this chapter, we will evaluate the status of organotin (OT) contamination in European countries, using imposex in gastropods as a surrogate. The temporal trends uncovered are evaluated under the light of the 2003 European ban (Directive 2002/62/EC and Regulation 782/2003) and the AFS Convention (entered into force in 2008). The reduction of TBT pollution is addressed under the same light. Overall, we conclude that significant reductions in imposex levels started to emerge after the European ban (2003), though those reductions were more pronounced from 2008 onward. The most recent surveys disclose that the recovery of the ecosystems from the “TBT nightmare” is ongoing.


AFS Convention Antifouling paints Directive 2002/62/EC Imposex Monitoring Nassarius reticulatus Nucella lapillus Organotins Tributyltin 




AFS Convention

International Convention on the Control of Harmful Antifouling Systems on Ships


Environmental Assessment Criterion


European Commission


Ecological Quality Objective


International Maritime Organization


Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic


Organotin compounds


Paris Commission


Polyvinyl chloride


Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (European Union Regulation)


Relative penis length index


Relative penis size index






Vas deferens sequence index


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Catarina A. Sousa
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. Ramiro Pastorinho
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Health Sciences Research Centre (CICS)University of Beira InteriorCovilhãPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Biology & CESAMUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  3. 3.Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Medical SciencesUniversity of Beira InteriorCovilhãPortugal

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