2017 May – Brisbane Airport (Queensland) – PFAS

Airservices use of fire fighting foam at Brisbane Airport


Use of fire fighting foam at Brisbane Airport Airservices does not use fire fighting foam containing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at Brisbane Airport, and stopped using fire fighting foam containing PFAS in 2010. The primary function of Airservices aviation rescue fire fighting service is to save lives and international fire fighting regulations require the use of fire fighting foam. From 1988 until the early 2000s, a fire fighting foam called 3M Lightwater was used. This product contained perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) as an active ingredient and other PFAS,such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).Following increasing concerns about the possible environmental and health impacts of PFOS, in 2003 Airservices changed to another approved fire fighting foam called Ansulite that was understood not to contain PFOS or PFOA. It was later found to contain traceamounts of both these chemicals. In 2010, Airservices transitioned to a PFAS-free foam, Solberg RF6, at Brisbane.

What action has Airservices taken at Brisbane Airport?

Site testing Airservices undertook a preliminary site investigation at the fire training ground in 2006-08 which confirmed the presence of PFAS residues within soil, sediment and groundwater. From 2009-12, Airservices engaged environmental experts to undertake further detailed site assessments of our operational sites on airport land as well as sampling of sediment, water and marine species in Moreton Bay. This included a Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment (HHERA) conducted in 2012 for the fire training ground, main fire station and secondary (satellite) fire station.The HHERA showed there were no likely significant human health impacts resulting from continuing use of the sites by staff or visitors. Potential human health risks for maintenance and construction workers at the sites were identified however, these potential risks have since been mitigated by Airservices through the development of specific work, health and safety guidelines. It was determined that simple good hygiene practices are sufficient protection against exposure when working on the sites.Further monitoring of soil, sediment and water was undertaken at the three sites in 2016. Results showed little change to 2012 results and the reports indicated the potential for migration of PFAS offsite to be low or negligible. Airservices will implement regular, ongoing monitoring of the three sites to ensure this does not change.Following each site investigation, Airservices has shared the results with Brisbane Airport and the relevant Commonwealth and State regulators, including the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

May 2017Airservices continues to monitor PFAS at the airport and work with the Commonwealth and State health and environment departments, regulators, policy experts, airport operators and researchers to develop solutions, such as screening thresholds, to manage PFAS contamination from all sources, including legacy fire fighting foams.