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The effects of ultraviolet-b radiation on the toxicity of fire-fighting chemicals

Authors

  • Robin D. Calfee,

    1. U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research Center, 4200 New Haven Road, Columbia, Missouri 65201
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  • Edward E. Little

    Corresponding author
    1. U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research Center, 4200 New Haven Road, Columbia, Missouri 65201
    • U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research Center, 4200 New Haven Road, Columbia, Missouri 65201
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Abstract

The interactive effects of ultraviolet (UV) and fire-retardant chemicals were evaluated by exposing rainbow trout (Oncorhyncus mykiss) juveniles and tadpoles of southern leopard frogs (Rana sphenocephala) to six fire-retardant formulations with and without sodium ferrocyanide (yellow prussiate of soda [YPS]) and to YPS alone under three simulated UV light treatments. Yellow prussiate of soda is used as a corrosion inhibitor in some of the fire-retardant chemical formulations. The underwater UV intensities measured were about 2 to 10% of surface irradiance measured in various aquatic habitats and were within tolerance limits for the species tested. Mortality of trout and tadpoles exposed to Fire-Trolr̀ GTS-R, Fire-Trol 300-F, Fire-Trol LCA-R, and Fire-Trol LCA-F was significantly increased in the presence of UV radiation when YPS was present in the formulation. The boreal toad (Bufo boreas), listed as endangered by the state of Colorado (USA), and southern leopard frog were similar in their sensitivity to these chemicals. Photoenhancement of fire-retardant chemicals can occur in a range of aquatic habitats and may be of concern even when optical clarity of water is low; however, other habitat characteristics can also reduce fire retardant toxicity.

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