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This science fair project is performed to compare the level of marine pollution (specifically, copper leaching) at a boatyard with pollution in other locations. The testing was done at an independent lab using water samples obtained from a boatyard, a marina, a beach and tap water.


The water sample obtained from the boatyard will have the highest level of copper content.

Scientific Terms

Antifouling, marine organisms, barnacles, copper, contamination


Boatyard pollution

Most ships and boats will have their bases painted with an antifouling paint. This paint helps to prevent the growth of barnacles and other types of marine organisms on the hull of the boat. The presence of these organisms will reduce the speed of the boat and also affect its fuel efficiency.

The most common active ingredient in antifouling paint is copper. High concentrations of copper can be found in antifouling paint. Even though copper is very effective in deterring the growth of organisms on the base of boats, it is also harmful to marine life.

Despite being coated with antifouling paint, boats still need to be cleaned and existing organisms removed once a year. This is normally done by raising the boat on a ramp and washing the bottom of the boat using a high pressure jet of water, which unfortunately also chips paint off from the surface of the boat. After cleaning, the dirty water needs to be processed and cleaned thoroughly before it can be released back into the environment, to prevent the contamination of seawater and ground water. This contaminated water may even be hazardous to the workers performing the cleaning.

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
1 hour for preparation, 1 day for experiment
Material availability:
Easily found. However, transportation to the various locations, as well as access to a laboratory, is required
Safety concerns:

Be careful when gathering water samples at the boatyard. Adult supervision required.