Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.

If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Periodic Graphics: Suppressing wildfires with chemistry

Chemical educator and Compound Interest blogger Andy Brunning answers questions about Phos-Chek, a fire retardant used to stop forest blazes

by Andy Brunning
November 24, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 46


Credit: Andy Brunning/C&EN; Shutterstock (photo)

To download a PDF of this article, visit

References used to create this graphic:

Hogue, Cheryl. Seeing Red Chem. Eng. News, Aug. 29, 2011.

Kalabokidis, K. D. Effects of wildfire suppression chemicals on people and the environment Global NEST J. (July 2000). DOI: 10.30955/gnj.000144.

Kishore, Kaushal, and Kottotil Mohandas. Mechanistic Studies on the Action of Ammonium Phosphate on Polymer Fire Retardancy Combust. Flame (1981). DOI: 10.1016/0010-2180(81)90013-4.

US Forest Service. Phos-Chek Fire Retardants for Use in Preventing and Controlling Fires in Wildland Fuels Accessed Nov. 15, 2019.

A collaboration between C&EN and Andy Brunning, author of the popular graphics blog Compound Interest

To see more of Brunning’s work, go to To see all of C&EN’s Periodic Graphics, visit




This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Dr. Paul C. Li (November 27, 2019 10:13 PM)
Dear Mr. Brunning in care of c&en editor:
I am grateful with sincere thanks for this in-depth and thoughtful article regarding how we can use these publications for flame retardant compounds in our real life.
The potential modification of cellulosic fibers with ammonium phosphate clearly demonstrates its utilities in short fibers composites that can be extended to tires and rubber articles. The technologies were not new but processing difficulties hampered its commercial development in the middle of 1970’s.
You woke up my old interests. Best Regards with highest level of respect and sincerity. Paul

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment