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2018 June: Ongoing Health Concerns at Katherine (Northern Territory) – PFAS, PFHxS

Katherine doctor at war with Government health officials on PFAS

June 25 2018: https://pfasproject.com/2018/06/25/katherine-doctor-at-war-with-government-health-officials-on-pfas/

“A doctor has continued to raise the alarm on the high PFAS contamination levels being recorded in the blood of Katherine residents.

Dr P.J. Spafford from Gorge Health has raised the ire of the Federal Department of Health by saying it needs to do more in Katherine.

Dr Spafford is embroiled in a tussle with the Federal Government, particularly with Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Tony Hobbs, who was in Katherine this week.

Health officials, including the nation’s chief health officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, have criticised Dr Spafford.

Professor Murphy last month said Dr Spafford was creating ‘unnecessary community concern‘ by commenting publicly on blood test results for PFAS contamination.

He has told Dr Spafford he would be talking to the NT Primary Health Network, which contracted Dr Spafford to do the blood tests about the future of the testing program.

Dr Spafford told Katherine Times today he had informed Dr Hobbs ‘the Department of Health has not met its obligations in terms of public health i.e. ensuring determinants of health such as housing and sanitation and includes ensuring a clean and safe water supply’.

‘This has not been done in Katherine and is still being left up to the Department of Defence to take responsibility. We are not in a war zone here!’

PFAS chemicals used in firefighting foams at the Tindal RAAF Base have long leached into the Katherine water supply.

Dr Spafford said the basic fact was that contamination has taken place and the people here have already accumulated excessive PFAS.

Dr Spafford said blood tests showed one of the PFAS chemicals, PFHxS, are showing up at very high levels.

Expected ranges for 95 per cent of the population are 6.3 and 4.9 ng/ml for males and females respectively, he said of one standard.

‘Our geometric mean is above these levels and our 95th percentile for the general population is 72.4 ng/ml. Over 80% of the people tested are not from high risk properties.

‘These figures are scary. And when you get into the children less than 14 years of age, again less than 20% from bore properties, the 95th percentile here is 110ng/ml,’ Dr Spafford said.

Katherine’s water is officially safe to drink.”