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PFAS Resources and Information

PFAS and the water industry

Current Situation 

The current focus is largely on determining the extent of environmental contamination, and potential scale of impact on people living on and around bases.

In Australia, Government agencies with responsibility for Health and/or the Environment, in several states, are currently providing public information about local investigations and advice on use of untreated water in these areas.

It is expected that NHMRC will be asked to consider the FSANZ work when reviewing the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. The World Health Organisation is also currently considering PFOS/PFOA as part of its rolling revision of the Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality leading up to the 2nd amendment of the 4th Edition of the WHO Guidelines (due for publication in 2019) or the 5th Edition (due for publication in 2021). (pers com David Cunliffe 11/04/2017)

 

Call for reform amid PFAS discoveries WaterCareer 16 April 2018

 

Resources on PFAS from WaterRA 

PFAS Presentation given by Dr Brad Clarke at the PFAS Community of Interest Workshop in Melbourne on Monday 18th December 2017.

Video of presentation by Dr Jill Woodford at joint WaterRA/AWA Symposium in Darwin, October 2017.

Fact Sheet - Perfluorinated Chemicals in Water (May 2017)

Article from Health Stream #82, July 2016

Research - Assessing the impact of wastewater-derived perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) on aquatic ecosystems - Tim Coggan PhD project (RMIT University, University of Melbourne, Melbourne Water)

 

Resources on PFAS overseas

The OECD Portal on Per and Poly Fluorinated Chemicals facilitates the exchange of information on per and poly-fluorinated chemicals, focusing specifcally on
per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). In order to support a global transition towards safer alternatives, the Portal provides information on the following areas:

  1. What are PFASs?

  2. Risk reduction approaches

  3. Alternatives

  4. Production and emissions

  5. Information from countries

Information provided in this portal comes principally from the work done within the context of the OECD/UNEP Global PFC Group.

In January 2018 The US National Groundwater Association produced NGWA published Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice to identify the known science and knowledge related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) compounds. It summarises the fate, transport, remediation, and treatment of PFAS, as well as current technologies, methods, and field procedures used to characterise sites and test remediation and treatment technologies.

 

Help us to keep this page useful and up to date with new links or suggestions.

PFAS in Australia – who is doing what?

  • The Federal Government has coordinated a response to PFAS contamination largely centred on and around defence bases. The lead agencies are the Departments of Defence and Health, with additional inputs from Environment and Energy (via EPA) and FSANZ. NMI and CRC CARE are also taking a role in monitoring and detection.
  • States are also providing information via their equivalent agencies (largely health/water and environment)
  • Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA), on behalf of the collegiate Heads of EPAs Australia and New Zealand (HEPA) and the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy, hosted a summit of international environment experts and regulators on PFAS in April 2017.

Heads of EPAs Australia and New Zealand 

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA), on behalf of the collegiate Heads of EPAs Australia and New Zealand (HEPA) and the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy, hosted a summit of international environment experts and regulators on PFAS in April 2017.

You can view the HEPA PFAS summit here

The National Chemicals Working Group of HEPA is working to develop a nationally consistent approach to the regulation of PFAS, which will help all jurisdictions manage these substances more coherently. Outcomes went to the HEPA meeting at the end of April 2017.

In August 2017 a per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP) Consultation DRAFT was issued for comment. The NEMP aims to provide governments with a consistent, practical, risk-based framework for the environmental regulation of PFAS-contaminated materials and sites. The PFAS NEMP is being developed as an adaptive plan, able to respond to emerging research and knowledge.

Relevant information, including links to download the NEMP and feedback forms are here.

Department of Defence – site investigations around bases in Australia

Defence has commenced a national program to review its estate and investigate and implement a comprehensive approach to manage the impacts of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on, and in the vicinity of, some of its bases around Australia.

The main page for information from the Dartment of Defence is here: PFAS Investigation and Management Program

PFAS are generally present in aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). AFFF is a fire-fighting foam that has been used extensively worldwide, and within Australia, from about the 1970s by both civilian and military authorities, due to its effectiveness in extinguishing liquid fuel fires.

From 2004, Defence commenced phasing out its use of legacy AFFF containing PFOS and PFOA as active ingredients. The AFFF now used by Defence is a more environmentally safe product. Further, Defence has made changes to the way it uses AFFF to ensure that the risk of releasing AFFF into the environment is minimised.

Defence is taking a responsible and proactive approach to this matter and is working with Commonwealth, state and local authorities in the conduct of its investigations.

Defence is being open and transparent in making the verified test results available to the local community, and will share this information with relevant state/territory and local authorities to assist with planning.

Departments of Health – community walk-in sessions with affected communities

The Commonwealth Department of Health has a web page: Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) with links to a range of documents and initiatives on this topic. 

“The Australian Government has committed to a number of health initiatives to assist the communities affected by PFAS contamination, in particular at Williamtown, New South Wales, and Oakey, Queensland.

These include:

  • An epidemiological study that will look at potential causes and patterns of health effects in the Williamtown, NSW and Oakey, QLD communities.
  • A Voluntary Blood Testing Program for those who have lived or worked in the Williamtown, NSW and Oakey, QLD investigation areas.
  • Additional dedicated mental health and counselling services in affected communities of Williamtown, NSW and Oakey, QLD.
  • The final health based guidance values (HBGVs) for PFAS for use in site investigations in Australia.”

Professor Brian Priestly, Head of the Australian Centre for Human Health Risk Assessment (ACHHRA) has produced a Literature Review on the potential health effects of perfluoralky compounds for the Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria

Airservices Australia

Airservices Australia has a web page: Fire fighting foam which provides general information about the use of PFAS at airports around Australia

They are currently undertaking risk assessments of airport sites where fire fighting foams containing PFAS have been used to determine if any migration of PFAS residues from fire stations and training grounds has occurred.

Further site testing may commence following the outcomes of the risk assessment and will be based on a range of factors developed in consultation with regulators and experts. Other links from the Airservices page include:

  • About per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
  • Use of fire fighting foams
  • Health-based guidance values for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for use in site investigations in Australia (links to Health Department fact sheet)
  • Airservices submission to Senate Inquiry Part B: Contamination at Commonwealth, state and territory sites in Australia where fire fighting foams containing PFOS and PFOA were used.

CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE)

http://www.crccare.com/knowledge-sharing/pfos-and-pfoa-guidelines

CRC CARE has developed risk-based guidance for the assessment, management and remediation of site contamination for perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).


CRC CARE has published a five-part technical document, which can be downloaded from their PFOS &PFOA guidelines page. Its purpose is to provide a consistent, risk-based approach to the assessment, management and remediation of PFAS contamination in Australia. The guidance includes:

  • human health screening levels (HSLs) and ecological screening levels (ESLs) for PFOS and PFOA contamination in soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment
  • a framework and discussion regarding the application of these screening values
  • a risk-based approach to the management and remediation of PFOS and PFOA contamination.

Follow this link to the CRC CARE PFOS & PFOA guidelines page

CRC CARE hosted the First International PFAS Conference as part of CleanUp 2017 from 10-14 September 2017.

The PFAS Conference explored problems, issues, environmental behaviour, policy challenges and management of this important class of emerging contaminants. The draft program includes:
Local/international policy and guidance on PFAS (terrestrial and aquatic)

  • Fate of PFAS including toxicological studies
  • Case studies: field-based observations of PFAS in soil:water:plant systems
  • Management and remediation of PFAS.

Click here to access the conference proceedings

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand

FSANZ is contributing to the overall Australian Government effort in assessing the health impacts and exposure to these compounds. The web page on perfluorinated compounds was last updated in July 2016.

Here is the link to the FSANZ web page on perfluorinated compounds

 

National Measurement Institute (NMI)

“The National Measurement Institute (NMI) is Australia's peak measurement body responsible for biological, chemical, legal, physical and trade measurement. Among its broad range of commercial scientific services, NMI offers NATA accredited analytical testing services for a comprehensive range of PFAS chemicals.
NMI capabilities include:

  • advanced LC-MS/MS instrumentation for PFAS analysis and research
  • NATA accreditation for testing common PFAS in soil and water matrices
  • highly skilled and experienced staff committed to providing quality results
  • rapid turnaround times.

In 2015, NMI partnered with Environment Protection Authority Victoria and the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment to develop Australia's first PFAS proficiency testing capability. NMI has ISO 17043 accreditation for an ongoing international proficiency testing program of PFAS in soil, water and biota. The NMI also regularly participates in other international proficiency testing thereby benchmarking our analytical performance in testing at ultra-trace levels." 

In 2016 the National Measurement Institute (NMI) conducted Australia’s second proficiency study for poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Twenty-four laboratories participated in this study in which total and linear PFOS and PFOA were analysed in fish, soil and water. A copy of the final report is available, along with a number of the presentations given at the workshop and the audio recording.  

To see more about this meeting follow this link to the NMI website