CRC CARE is leading a project on the assessment, management and remediation of perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). These perfluorochemicals have historically been used to improve the ability of fire-fighting foam to smother fire. In such ‘aqueous film-forming foams’, or AFFFs, these chemicals have been used on fires at many thousands of emergency and training sites worldwide over the past half-century. They are also widely used to treat fabrics and leather, and in paper products, non-stick cookware, food packing and insecticides.
There is strong evidence that PFOS and PFOA are potentially harmful to human and environmental health. In 2015 and 2016, PFOS and PFOA have received prominent news coverage after the discovery of extensive contamination in Williamtown, NSW, and Oakey, Queensland, as a result of historical firefighting training exercises (see the case study on CRC CARE’s work to clean up AFFFs, as well as information on matCARETM, a CRC CARE-developed technology for remediating PFOS and PFOA).
Given a lack of well-established guidance on managing PFOS and PFOA, in 2014 CRC CARE established a 20-member Technical Working Group (TWG), comprising regulators, scientific experts and industry, to oversight the the project. The ultimate aim is practical, user-friendly national guidance for regulators (environment protection authorities) and other parties involved in the management of PFOS and PFOA contamination.
The project is expected to be completed later in 2016. CRC CARE invites interested readers to download a PDF summarising the project's progress as of March 2016.
Please keep an eye on this webpage for future updates.
The National Measurement Institute (NMI) of Australia is organising a proficiency study for PFOS and PFOA. This study will be the second conducted by NMI for these analytes, and will enable laboratories to assess their ability to measure PFOS and PFOA in biota and environmental matrices. This is a quantitative program and will involve the analysis of six samples – two each (one incurred and one spiked) of soil, water and fish.