Biochemical properties of forest soils as affected by a fire retardant
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Synthetic polymers are currently being used as water additives to control wildfires and prescribed burns. This laboratory study examines the effects of one of these acrylic-based polymers (Firesorb) on some biochemical properties (microbial biomass C, hydrolysis of FDA, β-glucosidase, urease and N mineralization) of two coarse textured soils (loamy sand and sandy loam) under pinewood located at Galicia (NW Spain). Firesorb was added to unheated and heated soil samples at two levels of application (1 and 3 times the recommended dose) and measurements were made after 6 and 12 weeks of aerobic incubation. The results obtained for both soils at different incubation times were found to be comparable. Except for N mineralization, which was reduced by Firesorb addition, in both unheated and heated soils, the Firesorb-treated samples showed similar or significantly higher values for the biochemical parameters analyzed than those in the untreated control soils. This finding suggests that under these assay conditions the synthetic polymer used as a fire-fighting chemical had no adverse effects on soil microbial communities.
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