Sunday Aug 01, 2021
Sunday Aug 01, 2021
PFAS is part of a group of man-made chemicals sometimes called “forever chemicals”, because they break down so slowly.
These chemicals, used in firefighting foams from 1965 until 2005, have left a legacy of contaminated sites all over Australia. There are 900 contaminated sites including defence force bases and major airports. And because they break down so slowly it will take generations to remove the contamination.
PFAS has found its way to our homes into everyday products such as teflon coatings in our cookware and Scotchgard waterproofing.
There is a global treaty to eliminate PFAS and 5 other chemicals from the environment due to their harm to humans and wildlife. It is called the Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants and Australia is a signatory.
The European Commission has set a safe intake level for PFAS of 4.9 nanograms per kg of body weight because of the ill-effects on health. (A nanogram is one part per billion.)
The Morrison Government refuses to accept that the PFAS chemical has caused any harm. The government is refusing to offer compensation and to relocate residents in these contaminated red zones around Defence bases, where a PFAS plume is spreading under their homes right now.
A recent Federal Court case awarded some residents compensation that averaged $150,000 after legal fees. It was $212m in total. This is a tiny part of what these people have lost, and of course, they are still trapped in the red zone in homes they can’t sell. They are still being infected today. This is negligent and dishonest.
Currently Australia does not have a designated safe level for PFAS. Contaminated cattle in the PFAS red zones are routinely returning contamination levels of 400 parts per billion, which is 80 times the European safe level of 4.6 parts per billion.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand are currently conducting a review and we do expect FSANZ to set a level, which we hope matches the European standard.
The graziers still need to be relocated to a like for like property so they can get on with raising clean, heathy cattle to feed Australia and the world.
The health impacts of PFAS are not going away. These are forever chemicals. Contamination is getting worse because remediation has been limited and based on a refusal to accept the pervasive nature of the problem and the serious health impacts it causes.
We cannot have residents living in the middle of these highly contaminated red zones, abandoned and unable to move out. The Government must offer them like for like relocation.
FSANZ must introduce a national standard for PFAS in food.
Meat and Livestock Australia must get involved and lead a whole of industry response to removing PFAS from the meat food chain.
The government should now honestly settle with these people and then go and get compensation from Dupont, as they have already done in US. Dupont put aside billions of dollars for settlement.