TBT, tributyltin cation

Organometallic compound of tin with three butyl groups

Tributyltin (TBT) compounds are very effective biocides. Amongst the class of organotin compounds they are the most relevant with respect to ecotoxicity and toxicity. The most important TBT compound is tributyltin oxide (TBTO).
Globally TBT compounds are still components of many antifouling paints for ships. Furthermore, they are partly used, e.g., in disinfectants, wood-, textile- and leather-preservation, in roofing cardboard and sanitation silicones.

TBT compounds may enter the environment during production, land application of contaminated sewage sludge and - above all - as component of antifouling paints.
Environmentally relevant characteristics of TBT compounds are:

Since 2003, antifouling agents containing tributyltin are banned in the EU and since 2006, marketing of biocides containing tributyltin is prohibited.


Bream Bioindicator in rivers and lakes
Blue mussel One of the most important edible mussel species common in the North and Baltic Sea
Eelpout As the only viviparous fish in German nearshore waters, it is a bioindicator in nearshore coastal marine ecosystems.

Sampling area

Saarländischer Verdichtungsraum Important, old-industrialised conurbation in Germany.
Bornhöveder Seengebiet Main water divide between the North- and Baltic Sea
Rhein Longest river in Germany
NP Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park in the largest brackish water (Bodden) habitat of the world.
BR/NP Wattenmeere National park in the world largest connected sand and mud flats.
Elbe Fourth largest river basin in Central Europe
Verdichtungsraum Halle-Leipzig Region in the chemical triangle of Central Germany

Sampling period

1985 - 2006