Ran across this letter to the editor of a South African yachting rag, for what it's worth..
Is Your Boat a Death Trap?
Does your boat have any foam insulation
? Has your boat got decorative foam-backed vinyl stuck on the deckheads and bulkheads, two-part foam, or sprayed foam?
The moment this foam starts to powder you are in danger
of killing yourself or your crew. The foam in question is a polyurethane
foam; it is the only foam that powders. It is broken down into a fine powder through heat and moisture, just what boats in the tropics encounter. It is only a matter of time before this happens.
This powder is highly toxic, as are urethane paints. The chemicals used to make urethane products are:
À Methyl Isocyanate (responsible for the Bohpal disaster, used for pesticides)
À Hexamethylene Diisocyanate
À 3-Chloro-4-Methyl Phenyl Isocyanate
À Isophorone Diisocyanate
À Methylene Bisphenyl Isocyanate
How do I know that this is toxic? I was unaware of the toxicity of this foam and when I was delivering a Prout Snowgoose 37 from the Canaries
to Cape Town
, the foam-backed vinyl that was stuck all over the deckheads and bulkheads started to powder and fall down. It was cosmetic not structural so I did not think it serious.
I ended up with severe edema of the respiratory tract and was unable to breath properly for three weeks. The three crew all had different symptoms and all were affected. Not bad, 100% hit rate.
The boat was eventually abandoned and we were rescued by a Spanish long-liner, a Korean car carrier and the Brazilians, all of whom were fantastic, and to whom we owe our lives. The boat was lost
. I ended up in hospital for 10 days on cortisone, antihistamines, and having my lungs washed out. The medical
staff at the hospital were super. I could not ask for better treatment.
We all still suffer from side effects and pollution makes our lives miserable as the problems come back.
A friend had the same problem on her steel boat with the hard version of the foam and got severe dermatitis, which continued for three months, with other symptoms, after leaving the boat. She still suffers outbreaks - even synthetic clothing
materials cause a breakout.
Severe sinusitis, flu-type symptoms, itchy eyes, eye damage, sinus, coughs, asthma, reduced respiratory capacity, headache, nausea (mistaken for seasickness), vomiting and irritability, pulmonary edema, phlegm, fatigue, allergic reactions, kidney and liver damage, loss of memory and concentration, cancer, miscarriages, birth defects and death are all caused by these toxins. The effects can be both acute and chronic and once sensitized you will have problems for the rest of your life and be in danger
of death if exposed again.
Why have the maritime safety
authorities not done anything?
I would suggest that should you require further proof of the above, do some research
. The internet
provides a huge amount of information on this.
You have been warned.
Letter shortened. Ed.