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FRNSW set to undertake PFAS environmental investigations at five sites

Published: 22nd November 2016

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) is set to carry out the next stage of an environmental investigation to identify the extent and levels of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at five of its training facilities across NSW.

Detailed site investigations will be undertaken shortly at Armidale, Albion Park, Deniliquin, Alexandria and Greenacre and will include:

  • surveying neighbouring land owners on water usage
  • comprehensive on and off-site sampling of soil, groundwater, surface water and drainage lines
  • investigating and modelling how PFAS moves through the environment
  • preparing a Human Health Risk Assessment and Ecological Risk Assessment, depending on sampling results
  • consulting with key NSW and local government stakeholders, and local communities.

FRNSW has commissioned a specialist environmental consultant to conduct the review where legacy PFAS-containing firefighting foams were used.

PFAS are a class of manufactured chemicals generally present in aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) which were used extensively worldwide from the 1970s due to their effectiveness in fighting liquid fuel fires. The firefighting foams now used by FRNSW are more environmentally safe and do not contain PFAS.

These chemicals were also used globally in a range of common household products and speciality applications, including in the manufacture of non-stick cookware; fabric, furniture and carpet stain protection applications; food packaging and in some industrial processes. As a result, most people living in developed nations are likely to have some levels of PFAS in their body.

PFAS is an emerging contaminant, which means that they do not have established health standards, and their ecological and/or human health effects are unclear.

FRNSW is committed to working closely with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), NSW Health and other authorities, to further understand any effects of the historical use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam.

For more information, visit http://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/pfas or contact FRNSW PFAS Project Team on 1800 316 663 or pfasinvestigation@fire.nsw.gov.au