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Toxicity of Fire Retardant Chemicals to Aquatic Organisms: Progress Report

by

Steven J. Hamilton, Susan F. McDonald, Mark P. Gaikowski, and Kevin J. Buhl
U.S. National Biological Survey
Columbia Environmental Research Center
Field Research Station
RR 1 Box 295
Yankton, South Dakota, USA 57078


Abstract

Fire retardant and suppressant chemicals used extensively in North America are often applied in environmentally sensitive areas that may contain endangered, threatened, or economically important plant and animal species. We conducted laboratory acute toxicity tests in both hard and soft waters with five commonly used fire control chemicals (Fire-Trol LCG-R, Fire-Trol GTS-R, Phos-Chek D-75-F, Phos-Chek WD-881, and Silv-Ex). Organisms used in the tests included two fish (rainbow trout and fathead minnow), two aquatic invertebrates (Daphnia magna and Hyalella azteca), and a green algae (Selenastrum capricornutum). In general, the green algae was substantially more sensitive to the three non-foam fire chemicals than the animals, the Daphnia were the most sensitive test organism in exposures with foams. The two foams (Silv-Ex and Phos-Chek WD-881) had similar toxicity and were more toxic than the three non-foams. Water quality did not seem to modify the toxicity of the five fire chemicals in a consistent manner.


This resource is based on the following source:
Hamilton, Steven J., Susan F. McDonald, Mark P. Gaikowski, and Kevin J. Buhl.  
     1996.  Toxicity of fire retardant chemicals to aquatic organisms:  
     progress report.  International Wildland Fire Foam Symposium, Thunderbay,
     Ontario.  132-144pp.
     
This resource should be cited as:
Hamilton, Steven J., Susan F. McDonald, Mark P. Gaikowski, and Kevin J. Buhl.  
     1996.  Toxicity of fire retardant chemicals to aquatic organisms:  
     progress report.  International Wildland Fire Foam Symposium, Thunderbay,
     Ontario.  132-144pp.  Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. 
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/othrdata/fireweb/toxicity.htm
     (Version 02MAR98).

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Acknowledgment

This project was funded by the U.S. Department of Interior Fire Coordination Committee (Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service). Art Bullard is thanked for excellent technical assistance and Karen Faerber for typing the manuscript.


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