Environmental impacts of disinfecting rental boats for covid-19 between users

Good morning. I’m just wondering if anyone has come across concerns for environmental contamination of water bodies through the disinfecting of rental boats (canoes, paddleboats) because of covid. The disinfecting procedures have become much more extensive and this has raised concern over the possibility of releasing chemicals to natural water bodies. Obviously it’s not possible to completely dry the boats each time (as per normal disinfecting procedures when transporting boats from one area to another). I’m talking about disinfecting surfaces between rental uses during the same day.

Appreciate any insight you can offer - procedurally or type of disinfectant used

What about 2 cycle outboards? Farm and suburban run off, industrial output? IMO, you are looking at one of the smallest trees in the forest.

I appreciate that…but just trying to see if there are best practices out there to be diligent :slight_smile:

I don’t know about Best Practices for rental fleets but it seems to me that you could do a good job quickly with a power washer and a 10% bleach solution. Red Cross training recommends 10% bleach (90% water) as a good disinfectant and so does the CDC. You need to make a new solution every day since it loses it’s effectiveness but maybe that’s no big deal for a fleet owner. Bleach is pretty cheap and a power washer would let you do the inside quickly too. Just an idea.

It depends on the disinfectant used. If bleach, as Tom suggested, that should have no environmental contamination given the CDC recommends adding bleach to drinking water in natural disaster areas and hikers and campers use it when drinking water from backcountry water.

Bleach would also be most cost effective. If the boats were wiped down while in the sun, all the better.

All the best practice info you might want including specific products for disinfection


Spraying and wiping down with a 60-90% alcohol solution and letting it air dry should work. It should dry fairly quickly and will not harm most fabrics. Probably use a hand spray bottle to minimize over spray.

Never use bleach on a PFD. Chlorine bleach will harm or remove the color from many fabrics including some clothing and harm some plastics. Bleach solutions will also dry a lot slower.

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For boats, alcohol of even the lowest effective concentration for the type (each is different) would be prohibitively expensive. Even at the lowest acceptable concentration it would evaporate too quickly on a hot boat or in the sun.

I did see a rental operation the other day for inflatable tube style boats. It looked like they had a wash tank on a trailer but since I was keeping a healthy distance couldn’t see the details.

I think that would be fine as long as no bleach solution is allowed to contact the water (e.g. it was allowed to dry completely) - chlorinated water is actually deleterious to fish / fish habitat :slight_smile:

Theoretically if biodegradable soap and water were used with a rinse (all away from water / storm drains), one would think this would be enough given that the virus breaks down with soapy water?

I think the risk from surface contact has found to be rather low. A Chlorox wipe on the paddle and cockpit would suffice for me. PFDs are another matter.

There is nothing freindly or safe about bleach.

With how effective UV has proven to be, they just need to get left out in the sun for an hour

This is an airborne disease and transmission by surface contact is generally low risk, so do a cursory wipe down to satisfy the overlords and move on. UV will take care of the rest.

But for a more helpful answer, I would think that applying disinfectant to a rag, then wiping down the boat would product the least amount of over spray / over application, and have the least amount of liquid discharge that could contaminate nearby water bodies. I would think a wipe down method should be much more environmentally friendly than a spray down method, regardless of what product is used.

It’s a bit of a fool’s errand to be disinfecting boats in the first place. As others have said, transmission from surfaces is very very unlikely (the recommendation has evolved on this over the past year). Time between uses should more than suffice… especially if in the sun/heat.

Having said that… there would be no chance of pollution in the water from what anyone besides Russian agents would use on a boat.

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I’m more worried about a nuclear war.

Doubt covid is spreading through rental kayaks. Air transmission is how it spreads. Hates sunlight too.

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