PFAS chemicals have been manufactured since the 1950s and used in a variety of consumer products, including non-stick cookware, water-proof clothing, and fabric stain protection.
The chemicals last for a long time in the human body.
The environment around the towns of Oakey, Williamtown and Katherine have been contaminated due to firefighting activities on nearby Australian Defence Force bases.
Members of these communities have been potentially exposed to PFAS through the use of contaminated water including bore water on their properties, and eating locally grown foods.
The ANU is conducting the PFAS Health Study, which investigates whether disease rates are higher in Oakey, Williamtown and Katherine compared with other communities.
The study is also investigating if high PFAS levels are linked to specific exposure pathways or specific health outcomes.
ANU researchers are urging people who live in these communities, especially those that participated in the Australian Government Department of Health’s Voluntary Blood Testing Program, to participate in the PFAS Health Study.
“Over 2,500 people have had blood tests for PFAS in these communities and we are calling on those people to complete this survey,” said ANU principal investigator Professor Martyn Kirk.
“This survey is very important because it will give a more complete picture of PFAS exposure to residents of these areas and policy makers.
“We need to combine information gathered from this survey with the blood test results to really understand how people have been exposed and the possible outcomes.
“We want to find clear answers about the health effects of PFAS exposure.”
People living in Oakey, Williamtown and Katherine will receive an invitation to participate in the 30-minute survey if they had their blood tested through the Voluntary Blood Testing Program.
People who did not participate in the Voluntary Blood Testing Program but would still like to fill in a survey can contact the study team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1800 430 903.
“We are looking at whether PFAS is linked to different diseases and the levels of stress in these communities,” said Professor Kirk.
“Internationally, there is a need for more research into the health effects of PFAS and this study is an important step towards this.”
Professor Martyn Kirk
T: 02 6125 5609
For media assistance contact Rachel Curtis on 0459879726 or the ANU Media Team on +61 2 6125 7979 or at email@example.com