2018 December – Kernot Lake (Victoria) – PFAS

PFAS warning issued for Kernot Lake


People have been warned not to eat fish from Kernot Lake after PFAS was detected by the Environment Protection Authority.

PFAS is a group of man-made chemicals, many which have been in common use for many decades, including in historic firefighting foams and in-home products like non-stick pans and carpet treatments.

EPA chief environmental scientist Dr Andrea Hinwood said the regulator was taking a precautionary approach to minimise risk and recommended against consumption of animal products or water at the lake.

“EPA is issuing precautionary advice not to consume any fish caught in Kernot Lake and will be continuing the investigation [and] conducting fish samples in the coming weeks,” Dr Hinwood said .

Samples of sediment and surface water were taken from Kernot Lake.

“Analysis showed [the samples] contained levels of PFAS above drinking water concentrations and while no one drinks water from Kernot Lake, we have seen elevated concentrations in fish in other areas where similar concentrations have been recorded,” she said.

“We know Kernot Lake is a popular spot for fishing and has previously been stocked for recreational fishing, but it’s important people take this precaution and not consume the fish until we have more information.”

“To protect the community, EPA is taking a precautionary approach to PFAS working to minimise the risks of exposure to products and water containing elevated PFAS levels.”

Because the use of PFAS is widespread and the chemicals are slow to break down, traces of PFAS are likely to be found in groundwater, surface water and soils in many urban areas, a statement from the EPA read.

Latrobe City acting chief executive Steve Piasente said council was “concerned” about the PFAS detection, even though levels detected were “extremely low”.

“Whilst the sources of the contamination are not known, Latrobe City Council is supporting the EPA’s work to help minimise the risks to our community,” Mr Piasente said.

“Latrobe City Council is pushing the EPA for regular testing and monitoring of the PFAS levels within the lake and publishing the results of these tests as they become available.”

For more information about PFAS, phone the EPA on 1300 372 842 or visit epa.vic.gov.au.