Treatment for pollution from fire-fighting foam

Melbourne: An Australian team led by a scientist of Indian origin claims to have developed a groundbreaking solution for treating water and soil pollution from the toxic remnants of fire-fighting foam.


This breakthrough comes at a time of growing global concerns over cancer and environmental risks of long-lasting chemicals found in the foams that have been used for half a century.

The team from the CRC CARE (Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment) has developed a new substance called MatCARETM to treat waste-water remnants at a fire site or practice area that has been hosed down.

According to lead scientist of CRC CARE Ravi Naidu, the advance is based on the use of modified natural materials that break down the foam’s chemicals into harmless substances.

“There are over 49, 000 airports around the world, including 450 civilian and military airports in Australia alone. Many of these have used foam in fire-fighting exercises for many years, as well as in actual aircraft fires, and the chemicals have been subsequently detected in nearby groundwater and streams.

Practical, cost-effective

“It is the first practical, cost-effective clean-up solution to the large-scale water and soil pollution caused by decades of foam use all over the world,” said Professor Naidu.

“Both PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) increase effectiveness of the foam as a fire quencher. However, both are highly toxic chemicals and if they enter local water sources, they can accumulate in the food chain and in humans.


Research on impact of sea level in coast

DINDIGUL: Gandhigram Rural University has undertaken a research study on the impact of sea level in the southern part of Tami Nadu owing to global warming.

The study would bring out information on the anticipated shift of high tide line and its probable impact on the coastal rural systems, said N. Narayanasamy, Registrar.

In a release here on Thursday, he said that the study was being undertaken with financial support from Space Application Centre-Indian Space Research Organisation. The ISRO had granted Rs.20 lakh to the university for the project.

Global warming and its triggered snow melt in Antarctica and Arctic regions were expected to raise the sea level to the tune of 0.48 metre to one metre in another 100 years.

It was a proven fact that the entire coastal eco-system was expected to face major threats like submergence of low-lying wetlands, natural resources like ground water systems and potential agricultural lands, human habitations being affected.

The university would bring out predicted impact maps owing to sea level rise in the southern coast of the State, using remote sensing, GPS and GIS technologies. Like GRU, various institutions like Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, Centre for Geo-Engineering (Andhra University) and Centre for Remote Sensing (Bharathidasan University) were engaged in studying the northern part of Tamil Nadu coast, low-lying areas of Krishna-Godavari Delta, Lakshadweep Islands and Mumbai.

University Professor N.D. Mani will conduct the study and the Vice-Chancellor, SM. Ramasamy, will act as an overall technical adviser. Dr. Ramasamy said that it would bring out a newer package of information on coastal vulnerability based on rural management strategies for Tamil Nadu that would be replicated in other parts of the country.