Funding explores enviro impact of firefighting chemicals

Determining the ecological impacts of firefighting chemicals used to control bushfires is the aim of a Griffith University researcher who was among the 50 Early Career Industry Fellowships announced this week by the Australian Research Council.

Dr Chantal Lanctot.

Dr Chantal Lanctot, from Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute and its ARI-TOX team, was awarded $488,648 over three years.

The ARC’s Industry Fellowships Programs to help build innovation in the industry, community organisation, not-for-profit, and other government and publicly funded research sectors, and to facilitate the adoption, translation and commercialisation of Australian research over time.

Dr Lanctot’s previous research has found bushfire fighting chemicals commonly marketed as environmentally friendly could severely affect frog development.

This project will allow Dr Lanctot to determine the ecological impacts of firefighting chemicals used to control bushfires, providing scientific evidence needed to manage the safe use of firefighting chemicals around water catchments.

“Increased bushfire activity has led to a significant rise in the use of FFCs, resulting in a critical need to assess the risk they pose to aquatic ecosystems,” Dr Lanctot said.

“Working in partnership with government agencies and water utilities, this research will provide decision-makers with the scientific evidence needed to manage the safe use of FFCs around water catchments.

“The outcomes of this project will deliver direct environmental benefits by informing best practice guidelines and regulations to safeguard water resources and environmental assets during bushfire emergencies.”

Dr Lanctot said the project will deliver direct environmental benefits by:

  • offering a roadmap for responsible FFC use that will guide positive changes in policy and inform the development of greener alternatives;
  • and ensuring effective bushfire management practices that benefit society in the fight against bushfires while minimising harm to Australian ecosystems.

Water NSW and Icon Water Limited are industry partners in this project.