This page aims to provide you with answers to some of the questions frequently received by Environmental Science Solutions regarding fire retardants for use with bushfires in Australia. This information provided is a guide only. For further information contact the manufacturer or relevant health authority.
Fire retardants are used to slow the spread of bushfire. They are used by firefighters to help fight bushfires. Fire retardants are often dropped from aircraft to increase the coverage of the retardants. Fire retardants often contain a red pigment to aid in identification.
In Australia fire retardants containing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are not permitted for use.
Examples of fire retardants used in Australia include PHOS-CHEK D-75F and D-75R, Forexpan S and PHOS-CHECK WD881.
State and territory health departments provide information regarding fire retardants used for bushfires. In New South Wales information is available at the following website:
The ingredients used in fire retardants used for bushfires in Australia are listed on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) published by the manufacturer. Ingredients include:
PHOS-CHEK D-75F and D75R
Fire retardants have been used extensively in Australian and global bushfire fighting for many years. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) prepared a report in 2000 for the State of Victoria Department of Natural Resources and Environment examining the fire retardants used in Australia. The report is available at online:
The SDS published by the manufacturer provides the following statements for the concentrate (note: fire retardants are usually diluted with water prior to application).
PHOS-CHEK D-75F and D75R
Extensive research has been conducted into the impacts of fire retardants on the environment. Most of the research indicates insignificant impacts on terrestrial vegetation. Some research suggests that certain plant varieties become stressed when exposed to fire retardants. Other research indicates that invasive species become more prevalent.
Fire retardants can have negative impacts on the aquatic environment. The SDS published by the manufacturer states for the products in their concentrate form:
The New South Wales Department of Health provides the following advice regarding fire retardants and drinking water:
"The most effective way to prevent contamination of your water tank is to ensure that your tank is properly sealed.
If the fire retardant does enter your water tank:
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