PFAS environmental investigations
The NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and local councils are working to investigate the presence of per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at locations across NSW. These chemicals were contained in firefighting foam which was used extensively worldwide for many years due to their effectiveness in fighting liquid fuel fires.
The EPA is leading the NSW PFAS investigation program. The EPA monitors the progress of NSW RFS PFAS investigations and coordinates any necessary precautionary dietary advice for people to avoid PFAS exposure.
PFAS in firefighting foams
Firefighting foam containing PFAS was used by some brigades in operational and training activities from 1975 for the protection of people and property.
In 2007, the NSW RFS commenced the removal and disposal of PFAS based foams. The majority were disposed of between 2015 and 2018. Measures were implemented to identify and appropriately dispose of any possible small amounts of PFAS foam that may have remained in storage after this time.
Firefighting foams used by NSW RFS are authorised by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, the approval body for chemical use in Australia. The NSW RFS has only used foams legally allowed for use in Australia.
PFAS in the environment
PFAS compounds have also been used around the world in a range of common household products including non-stick cookware, fabric, furniture, carpet, food packaging and other industrial processes. As a result, almost everyone is likely to have some levels of PFAS in their home and body.
What are the health implications of PFAS?
There are no known human health effects related to PFAS, however these chemicals are emerging as a contaminant of concern because they can remain in the environment for a long time, and can gather or accumulate.
The presence of PFAS in the environment does not necessarily mean there is a human health risk. In May 2018, the Commonwealth Department of Health’s Expert Health Panel provided advice on PFAS health impacts. While there is no consistent evidence of any human health effects related to PFAS exposure, the NSW PFAS Taskforce is taking a precautionary approach to protecting human health.
Where can I get more information about PFAS?
- Read more about the NSW EPA state-wide PFAS program.
- Questions about the NSW EPA’s state-wide PFAS investigation program can be directed to the NSW Environment Line on 131 555.
- NSW Health has a range of information available about PFAS.
- The NSW PFAS Technical Advisory Group has information about its role and function in providing high level advice on PFAS-related matters.
- You can read more about what the NSW RFS PFAS investigations by monitoring this site.
Our commitment to you
We will work to ensure you are kept up to date on the situation and investigations.
You can ask questions by emailing email@example.com or contact Debra Thompson, NSW RFS on 02 8508 4040.
Information updated 25 August 2022.
The following sites are where investigations are currently underway or have been completed.