2016 Oakey Residents Queensland – Exposed to PFAS
The ADF has indicated that the levels of PFOS present in Oakey’s groundwater range from 0.2ug/L to 500ug/L and levels of PFOA range from 0.4ug/L to 500ug/L. These ranges significantly exceed the short-term health advisory limits published by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2012 (normally intended to protect for one or ten days of exposure) which are 0.2ug/L for PFOS and 0.4ug/L for PFOA.
We note however that more recent scientific research from Europe indicates that even current drinking water limits appear not to be strict enough to protect against certain health effects of exposure to PFCs and therefore need to be revised (potentially by tightening by several hundred fold).
It is clear that the chemicals are spreading in groundwater far beyond the Oakey Army base.
Evidence suggests that many bores in the area may be dangerously contaminated for the indefinite future and there is a possibility of wider impacts.
There is some concern as to whether contaminated bore water should be used to water crops or livestock. The ADF has indicated that there is some uncertainty as to whether the bore water can safely be used for bathing.
Shine Lawyers’ research has found that the UK Public Health authorities advise that skin or eye exposure to the relevant chemicals may cause irritation.
Residents near Oakey Aviation Base ‘likely’ ingested toxic chemicals, report finds
The Department of Defence says residents who live near the Oakey Aviation Base in south-west Queensland are likely to have ingested a range of toxic chemicals associated with firefighting foam.
The department today released its human health assessment regarding the detection of poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination around the base.
The contamination also included perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Firefighting foam used at the base in training and emergency responses since the 1970s caused contaminated groundwater and soil.
The report confirmed that people who drank or used bore water before 2010, when the chemicals were first discovered at the base, were likely to have ingested them.
The report found there was a low and acceptable risk to health associated with typical exposure to the PFAS detected in the environment for the general community.
It also found that consuming meat, fish, locally grown vegetables and incidental ingestion of water while swimming, boating or fishing were considered to be low risk…
The community has been advised not to drink or bathe in bore water or groundwater….
Call for department to ‘come clean’
Oakey GP Dr John Hall said the issue had led to a great deal of stress in the community.
“The biggest issue we’ve seen coming through our door is mental health, depression and anxiety related to this issue,” he said.
He said one of the things that had led to the anxiety was a lack of real information from the Defence Department.
“From my understanding the report does not confirm or clearly talk about the health effects of these chemicals,” he said.
“We’re calling on them [Defence Department] to come out and come clean with that and talk openly about the health effects.”
Dr Hall’s clinic conducts blood tests on Oakey residents to detect exposure, but he said it was difficult to interpret the results as there was no guidelines on what a safe level was.
“The advice we’re getting from Defence and the advice we’re getting from the Department of Health is they don’t know, so they don’t know what a safe level is,” he said.