PFAS chemicals have been linked to cancers and other health problems in international reports.
PFAS chemicals have been linked to cancers and other health problems in international reports.

Toxic chemicals found in Ayr water supply

TOXIC chemicals have been detected in bores connected to the Ayr town water supply.

Burdekin Shire Council has confirmed elevated levels of Per-and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) were found in two of six bores connected to town water following routine quality assurance testing conducted by Queensland Health on Friday May 25.

Council Director of Infrastructure, Planning and Environmental Services Nick Wellwood said the two bores were immediately disconnected from the town water supply.

"Both bores were isolated immediately and remain switched off," he said.

"Test results received yesterday show that only one bore is still affected, however Council

has elected to keep the two bores offline until further investigations can be conducted."

The contaminated bore is located in the Nelson's Lagoon Borefield.

Mr Wellwood said when Ayr's six bores were initially sampled by Queensland Health on 29 March all results were compliant with national water quality standards.

"However, a second round of quality assurance test results received on Friday 25 May

returned elevated levels in two out of six bores," he said.

 

Sites around Australia contaminated by PFOS and PFOA.
Sites around Australia contaminated by PFOS and PFOA.

 

Mr Wellwood said the source of the contamination was not yet known but confirmed the Burdekin Shire Council, State Government and the water supply regulator were working closely to determine the cause.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin assured residents that the town water

supply was safe to drink.

"I want to reassure our community members that the town water continues to be safe to

drink and test results received by Council yesterday confirmed this," she said.

"There is no disruption to the town water supply as a result of the two affected bores

remaining switched off and Council will continue to update residents as more information

comes to hand."

Residents in the south Queensland township of Oakey have elevated levels of PFAS in their blood after bores used for drinking were contaminated by the nearby Defence Oakey Army Aviation Centre.

Toowoomba Regional Council confirmed in 2016 that toxic groundwater was mixed with the clean town supply between 2008 and 2012.

WHAT IS PFAS:

PFAS is a man-made chemical that was widely used in household and industrial products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water.

A science panel in the United States set up to investigate the health risk from exposure to PFAS chemicals found there was a probable link to diagnosed high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

An independent expert health panel established by the Australian Government found there was "no current evidence that suggested an increase in overall cancer risk".

The panel also concluded much of the evidence available was weak and inconsistent and that decisions to minimise exposure to PFAS chemicals should be largely based on their known ability to persist and accumulate in the body.

The Department of Defence is undertaking a national program to review, investigate and implement a comprehensive approach to manage the impacts PFAS on, and in the vicinity of, some of its bases around Australia including Townsville.