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New paper! Effects of common firefighting chemicals on tadpoles!

Congratulations to Honours alumna Kate Tunstill for publishing her first first-author paper!!

Tunstill, K., Grogan, L. F., Morrison, C., McCallum, H., Lanctot, C. (2022) Effects of two firefighting chemical formulations, Phos–Chek LC95W and BlazeTamer380, on striped marsh frog (Limodynastes peronii) tadpole survival, growth, development and behaviour. Aquatic Toxicology, 252:106326.


Global wildfire events are projected to become more frequent and severe due to the continual threat of climate change, resulting in increasing demand for effective fire mitigation methods. Firefighting chemicals (FFCs), including retardants, foams and water enhancers, are often used to prevent the spread of wildfires. However, the impact of FFCs on wildlife and ecosystems is poorly understood. We investigated the effects of two common FFC formulations, Phos-Chek LC95W and BlazeTamer380, on tadpole survival, growth, development and swimming behaviour. Tadpoles of the striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peronii) were exposed to two concentrations of either Phos-Chek (0.25 and 1 g/L) or BlazeTamer (0.05 and 0.2 g/L) for 16 days. The highest concentration of Phos–Chek was lethal to tadpoles, with mortalities gradually increasing over time and only 8% of animals surviving to day 16. Both FFCs influenced the growth and development of tadpoles, though effects were more severe in tadpoles exposed to the Phos-Chek formulation. Phos-Chek was found to completely stop tadpole growth and development over the 16-day exposure, whereas BlazeTamer significantly delayed growth and development in comparison to controls. Nevertheless, treatments had no apparent effect on tadpole movement patterns and swimming activity. Greater toxicity caused by the Phos-Chek treatment likely relates to the increased ammonia and altered water quality parameters. Runoff or accidental application of commonly used FFCs into small waterways may therefore have important ramifications for aquatic biota.

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