When I walked the fire zone in August I wondered: What about this toxic mix?
It is the fire retardant mingled with soot, plant matter and Lord knows what else. It is dropped to keep the fire from spreading and allow fire fighters access and time. It is essentially toxic, and now there is a lot of it sitting out there on my field site–for the critters to wander into and drink from. What does it do to them? I stopped myself at the time from thinking more, because I wanted to document. But, in the wake of the most recent wildfires in California, The New York Times ran a little box investigating the use of retardant. You can go here to read the article. Although some suggest the retardants rarely hit waterways (the most vulnerable systems: retardant on a river in Oregan killed 20,000 fish) who knows what they do to the animals regions they do hit. Yes, fish and other water dwelling creatures are clearly the most at risk–the retardant does not immediately kill land animals. But…what does it do to them?
What does it do to my birds, what does the fire do and what would it do without the retardant?
Fire is not new…But the retardant is something new. That’s something these animals have not seen before (Joel Despain, NY Times 11/16/08).