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PFAS environmental investigations

The NSW RFS (RFS), NSW Environment Protection Authority (NSW 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 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 RFS commenced the removal and disposal of PFAS based foams. Measures have been implemented to identify and appropriately dispose of any possible residual amounts of PFAS foam that may have remained in storage after this time.

RFS no longer uses PFAS containing foam and complies with the Protection of the Environment Operations (General Amendment) PFAS Fire Fighting foam (Regulation) 2021.

Firefighting foams used by RFS are authorised by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, the approval body for chemical use in Australia. RFS has only used foams legally permitted for use in Australia.

PFAS in the environment

PFAS compounds have 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.

What are the health implications of PFAS?

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 Technical Advisory Group is taking a precautionary approach to protecting human health.

PFAS chemicals are emerging as a contaminant of concern because they can remain in the environment for a long time, and can accumulate.

More information

Our commitment to you

We will work to keep you up to date on investigations.

Email for more information.

Detailed investigations

The following sites are where investigations are currently underway or have been completed.

Information updated May 2023