John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Toxicity of forest fire retardant chemicals to stream‐type Chinook salmon undergoing parr–smolt transformation

Long‐term fire retardants are used to prevent the spread of wildland fires. These products are normally applied by aircraft and are intended specifically for terrestrial application, but fire retardants have entered aquatic habitats by misapplication and/or accidental spills and have resulted in fish mortalities. The authors examined the toxicity of two fire retardant products, PHOS‐CHEK 259F and LC‐95A, to salmon undergoing parr–smolt transformation. Yearling stream‐type Chinook salmon at the smolt stage were exposed to eight concentrations of each retardant in freshwater and a no‐PHOS‐CHEK control for 96 h to determine acute toxicity. Concentrations of the products that caused 50% mortality were 140.5 and 339.8 mg/L for 259F and LC‐95A, respectively, and could occur during accidental drops into aquatic habitats. Damage to gill tissues seen in histopathological sections was attributed to fire retardant exposure. Un‐ionized ammonia levels, from 259F, were sufficient to cause acute mortality; but additional factors, indicated by increased phagosome prevalence in the gills, might have contributed to mortality during LC‐95A exposure. Seawater and disease challenges were performed to determine sublethal effects of product exposures on fish health. Although PHOS‐CHEK exposure did not adversely affect Chinook salmon's susceptibility to Listonella anguillarum, exposure did significantly reduce seawater survival. Reduced salmon survival resulting from prior fire retardant exposure during their transition from freshwater rearing environments to seawater may decrease the abundance of salmon populations. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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