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Acute Toxicity of Fire-Retardant and Foam-Suppressant Chemicals to Hyalella azteca (Saussure)

Susan F. McDonald, Steven J. Hamilton, Kevin J. Buhl,
National Biological Service, Columbia Environmental Research Center, Yankton Field Research Station, RR1 Box 295, Yankton, South Dakota 57078, USA

and James F. Heisinger
University of South Dakota, Biology Department, Vermillion, South Dakota 57069


Abstract

Acute toxicity tests were conducted with Hyalella azteca Saussure (an amphipod) exposed in soft and hard waters to three fire retardants (Fire-Trol GTS-R, Fire-Trol LCG-R, and Phos-Chek D75-F) and two foam suppressants (Phos-Chek WD-881 and Silv-Ex). The chemicals were slightly to moderately toxic to amphipods. The most toxic chemical to amphipods in soft and hard water was Phos-Chek WD-881 (96-h mean lethal concentration [LC50] equal to 10 mg/L and 22 mg/L, respectively), and the least toxic chemical to amphipods in soft water was Fire-Trol GTS-R (96-h LC50 equal to 127 mg/L) and in hard water was FireTrol LCG-R (96-h LC50 equal to 535 mg/L). Concentrations of ammonia in tests with the three fire retardants and both water types were greater than reported LC50 values and probably were the major toxic component. Estimated un-ionized ammonia concentrations near the LC50 were frequently less than the reported LC50 ammonia concentrations for amphipods. The three fire retardants were more toxic in soft water than in hard water even though ammonia and un-ionized ammonia concentrations were higher in hard water tests than in soft water tests. The accidental entry of fire-fighting chemicals into aquatic environments could adversely affect aquatic invertebrates, thereby disrupting ecosystem function.

Keywords -- ammonia, amphipods, fire retardants, fire suppressants, Hyalella azteca


This resource is based on the following source:
McDonald, Susan F., Steven J. Hamilton, Kevin J. Buhl,  and James F. Heisinger.
     1995.  Acute toxicity of fire-retardant and foam-suppressant chemicals to
     Hyalella azteca (Saussure).  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
     16(7):1370-1376.
     
This resource should be cited as:
McDonald, Susan F., Steven J. Hamilton, Kevin J. Buhl,  and James F. Heisinger.
     1995.  Acute toxicity of fire-retardant and foam-suppressant chemicals to
     Hyalella azteca (Saussure).  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
     16(7):1370-1376.  Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. 
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/othrdata/fireweb/hyalazte.htm
     (Version 02MAR98).

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Acknowledgments

This study was sponsored by the Interior Fire Coordinating Committee, U.S. Department of the Interior. We thank A. Bullard, M. Ehlers, and M. Gaikowski for technical assistance in conducting toxicity tests, K. Faerber for typing the manuscript, B. Poulton, P. Haverland, C. George, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful reviews.


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