October 3, 2018 by Graham Merrington

I attended, and presented at, the ALGA PFAS Summit held on the 2nd October at the Sydney International Conference Centre. The Summit was introduced by the ALGA President Ian Brookman, and presenters included representatives from the Australian Department of Defence, Department of Energy and Environment and Agriculture Victoria.

PFAS contamination at legacy sites is considered to be a major environmental problem in Australia, Patricia Reyes from the US Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council also suggested the same in the US. A great deal of discussion was had around the communication of risk and scientific information to communities affected and the public at large. Some, good and poor examples were given in this regard. Australia has yet to completely buy-in to the Stockholm Convention. I gave an EU perspective in relation to the restrictions, limits and bans that member states have been working on for over a decade. The secondary poisoning issue and ‘man the environment’ is still to be robustly dealt with in Australia, although the Department of Health’s expert panel for PFAS found no strong link between disease and PFAS exposures. A presentation from David Champness, from Agriculture Victoria described a situation in which livestock had been uniquely exposed to PFAS in contaminated dam water, and outlined that the half-lives in the animals was in the region of 100 days. There was also a linear relationship between PFAS in blood serum and PFAS in liver and kidneys.