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Old 16-06-2019, 07:41   #1
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Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

Cleaned the hull yesterday. Free diving with snorkel. Used a scrub brush. Light fouling.

Woke up in the night with abdominal pain, headache and diahhrea. Still feeling quite ill. Google suggests these symptoms might be consistent with copper poisoning.

We are in the Bahamas and I have been giving the bottom a scrub about every three weeks or so over the past 4 months, but this the first time I have had symptoms. Maybe just a tummy bug, but I cannot remember the last time I had intestinal trouble...

Is it possible I have poisoned myself?
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Old 16-06-2019, 07:58   #2
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

I haven't heard that. But have gotten sick a couple times in fecal infested waters. Just like your symptoms. Mine was hard bottom paint and little came off as I was mostly just scraping, not brushing, a bucket's worth of barnacles with a spatula, but for hours. Is it a popular enclosed anchorage?
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Old 16-06-2019, 08:02   #3
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

Popular anchorage, but very clear, open water here.

How long did it take for your symptoms to pass Chee?
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Old 16-06-2019, 08:27   #4
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

Copper poisoning? Not likely, and not nearly that fast. You would have to swallow many gallons of seawater to get a material amount.



On the other hand, loads of microbes are released during cleaning. This is more obvious. And whatever your neighbors flushed, including several vibro bugs (which are salt tolerant).
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Old 16-06-2019, 09:20   #5
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

Thanks Thin. Good to know. Obviously, my snorkel was filling with debris laden water on every dive. Perhaps an argument for a hookah?
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Old 16-06-2019, 11:53   #6
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

Definitely sounds bacterial and probably E coli from waste discharge. This is not unlike symptoms related to food poisoning. Usually takes several hours before symptoms show up, which can be very "violent" when they happen. Just drink lots of water and see a doc if you don't feel better soon. Maybe get a snorkel with a purge valve for next time. Also, clear water is not a good test of water quality....
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Old 16-06-2019, 12:06   #7
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

Thanks all. Feeling a touch better already.

Gotta say tho, I am a bit apalled that anyone would discharge waste in an anchorage. Guess it happens...
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Old 16-06-2019, 12:11   #8
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

had a doc (a good one) give me advice the other day for a stomach bug.

for what it is worth, he said:

drink plenty of water (in small amounts, frequently), but just water (no juice or anything that needs to be digested)

as long as the diahrea (or vomiting) persists, the intestines need to rest

do not drink/eat until it is over UNLESS these symptoms persists more than 48 hours (start to finish).

in that case, seek out a doc. it might be necessary to get bloodwork done, etc.


so.... take good care and do seek help if it persists



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Old 16-06-2019, 12:27   #9
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

Thank you too wolfie. Yup, rest, water, and cruisersforum. Not up to much else. Did manage to keep down a little oatmeal this morning, and later some pasta. Still weak, but no longer so miserable.
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Old 16-06-2019, 13:20   #10
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

Quote:
Originally Posted by polaris2.11 View Post
...Gotta say tho, I am a bit apalled that anyone would discharge waste in an anchorage. Guess it happens....

And people in this forum will defend the practice because it is harmless.
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Old 16-06-2019, 13:33   #11
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

Well, seems to me it is not really all that much effort to hold waste until you are well away from others... but I understand that some boats are not equipped to pump waste overboard from a holding tank at all, and precious few pumpouts in the Bahamas. Not an issue for us, with a so called 'composter', aka litter box for humans...

I wonder how the charter fleet here is set up for discharge as many of the boats here are charters.

...guess I will do my bottom cleaning in more isopated spots from now on.
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Old 16-06-2019, 13:47   #12
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

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Is it possible I have poisoned myself?
Yes, in a nutshell it’s possible.

Many sessile invertebrates growing on the bottom of your boat can’t run away from the dangers of a scrubbing brush and have evolved alternative defence mechanisms. Chemical defence is one of them, palytoxin is prob the most common (don’t google it! )

Any filter feeding invertebrate such as muscles or barnacles feed on micro algae including Dinoflagellates. Many corals also house dinoflagellates. Ciguatera is caused by dinoflagellates.

Plytoxin can be absorbed through unbroken skin so scrubbing anything with a palytoxin will release it into the water and be a possible issue!

Coliforms must be ingested or in contact with broken skin and is prob the most likely cause.....just sayin.
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Old 16-06-2019, 13:57   #13
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

Yikes! What is a poor boater to do? The hull must be cleaned somehow! Ah well, you takes yer chances I guess...
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Old 16-06-2019, 14:03   #14
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

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Originally Posted by polaris2.11 View Post
Yikes! What is a poor boater to do? The hull must be cleaned somehow! Ah well, you takes yer chances I guess...
Copper kills most aquatic invertebrates, just making peeps aware, you’ll be fine!

Hope you’re feeling better btw.
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Old 16-06-2019, 14:46   #15
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Re: Can I be poisoned scrubbing my boat's bottom?

There are many different types of marine toxins (paralytic shellfish poisoning, anyone?), but what Polaris describes is very likely bacterial. The route of exposure was probably from drinking the water. It takes very little of the bad E coli to make someone sick. Keep cleaning your bottom....what doesn't make you sick, only makes you stronger
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