Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 7439
Title: Disinfection potential of fire retardant foams
Author: A. L. Van Gaest, M. R. Arkoosh, J. P. Dietrich
Publication Year: 2015
Journal: Journal of Environmental Engineering
Keywords: Aquatic invasive species,firefighting foams,Whirling disease,disinfection

The spread of aquatic invasive species during wildland firefighting activities is a concern when water sources and equipment are transported across watersheds or into pristine areas. In the present study, we investigated the capability of wildland firefighting foams to inactivate organisms in bench-scale laboratory experiments. Specifically, Escherichia coli and coliphage xX174 were used to test the disinfection potential of foams against bacteria and virus species as an indicator of their efficacy against more resistant organisms. The USFS firefighting foams tested in this study did not inactivate E. coli or coliphage during maximum exposure conditions that are feasible during firefighting activities, i.e., 10% (v:v) mix ratio and a 60-min contact time. We did not examine whether firefighting foams were effective at displacing bacterial and viral organisms when used solely as a surfactant on solid surfaces. We conclude that fire retardant foams are not effective disinfection agents and will not reduce the risk of spreading aquatic invasive viral species during firefighting activities.

Theme: Habitats to Support Sustainable Fisheries and Recovered Populations
Foci: Characterize the interaction of human use and habitat distribution, quantity and quality.