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PFAS Chemicals in Australian Drinking Water - A Summary

This blog shares information collated over the past few years concerning PFAS detections in Australian drinking water supplies. It is not an authoritative list, as a national overview has not been published for 13 years. It is also a depressing reality that there has not been a nationally co-ordinated monitoring program for PFAS chemicals in drinking water. Why?

Australia's only national study was published in April 2011, with 62 samples taken from tap water from 34 locations between August and November 2010. The highest levels detected were PFOS at 16ng/L* and PFHxS and PFOA at 13ng/L and 9.7ng/L respectively. In terms of PFAS exposure via drinking water, the study estimated that on average 2-3% of PFAS exposure was from drinking water with a maximum of 22% and 24%. Recent research by the University of New South Wales has recently added to the debate: _”Prof. O’Carroll stresses that these PFAS traces are found in source water, such as dams, and not drinking water itself – drinking water goes through treatment plants, some of which are designed to reduce the amount of chemicals such as PFAS in our water before it comes
out of the tap. But some water providers – for example, Sydney Water – don’t routinely measure the broad range of PFAS potentially in our drinking water, says Prof. O’Carroll...“But I certainly think that monitoring PFAS levels and making the data easily
available is worthwhile.”

*ng/L = parts per trillion (or one thousandth of one drop in an Olympic size swimming pool.

If you like this blog and want to support our work please donate here. This type of research is time consuming, extremely detailed and is currently not funded by anyone.

Image of Norfolk Island: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/85914/norfolk-island. Note that the source of PFAS in Norfolk Island drinking water is the airport located on the south of the island.

PFAS monitoring by the water industry in Australia is a relatively recent phenomenon.  The Department of Defence knew as early as as 1991 that fire fighting foams were potentially dangerous. On the 30th of April 2003 the Australian National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) released an alert recommending that PFOS/PFOA products such as AFFF be restricted to essential use only, and that AFFF foam should not be used for fire training/testing purpose. PFOS was also listed under the Stockholm Convention in 2009 (with PFOA listed in 2019 and PFHxS listed in 2022). Yet even after these events no water authority in Australia was testing for PFAS chemicals.

The Defence Department had started monitoring for PFAS in groundwater wells at Tindal (near Katherine) in the Northern Territory in May 2006 so they obviously knew that there was a potential problem emerging. In December 2011 the Defence Department confirmed that elevated PFAS levels were leaving Williamtown base and by early 2013 the Department was also warning people at Oakey in Queensland not to drink from underground water due to PFAS contamination from fire fighting foams used at the base between 1970 to 2005.

The earliest PFAS monitoring in a drinking water catchment by an Australian water authority appears to have been conducted by Melbourne Water in January 2011 with levels of PFOA detected in raw water (8ng/L*) at the offtake to Sugarloaf Reservoir on the Yarra River. Five positive samples of PFOA and PFOS were also detected at Lilydale Sewerage Treatment Plant (located 6.5km upstream of Sugarloaf offtake) in September 2010. Sydney Water appear not to have conducted any PFAS testing until January 2019 at 6 locations on the Hawkesbury River near North Richmond Water Filtration Plant. PFHxS + PFOS levels in North Richmond drinking water averaged 7.56ng/L from 10 samples. PFOA levels averaged 3.04ng/L.

Because of the recent understanding of the risks associated with PFAS, drinking water guidelines in Australia were not published by the National Health and Medical Research Council until 2016, even though the public had been exposed to PFAS chemicals for decades. 

Drinking water guidelines levels were then reduced substantially in the space of a year, by the National Health and Medical Research Council, after advice from the Department of Health and Food Standards Australia New Zealand with PFOS+PFHxS guideline levels set 7.5 times and PFOA levels set almost 9 times lower in April 2017. A flurry of testing occurred by some water authorites across Australia in 2017 (including sewerage treatment plant water and biosolids).

Despite guideline levels being scientifically approved on a national level, there was some doubt in health and water bureaucracies that PFAS was a problem at all (see below).

SA Water Daily Incidents and Hazards Summary Report Page 8 Wed 01 Nov 2017 "Drinking Water PFAS was discussed at the enHealth* regulators group. Utilities are being urged not to sample for PFAS unless a risk assessment identifies a credible potential source, e.g. PFAS use in catchment. DHA recommends that SA Water adopt this approach and only consider PFAS testing where a risk
assessment has shown a need for testing." [*enHealth is The Environmental Health Standing Committee of the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care].

This SA Water document released under FoI shows that from May 15 2017 the SA Department of Health, with advice from enHealth did not think that SA Water should test for PFAS chemicals as they believed that the risks were low due to their water supply catchment being located away from known pollution sources. This SA Health decision also included water released from waste water treatment plants and biosolids which have been found elsewhere as being highly polluted with PFAS chemicals.

There is no doubt that scientific understanding regarding the health impacts is still evolving, but 'alarm bells' concerning PFAS have been ringing for many years. The latest research (April 2024)  is now implying that PFAS chemicals raise "mortality from cardiovascular disease (in particular, heart diseases and ischemic heart disease) and malignant neoplastic diseases, including kidney cancer and testicular cancer."

In April 2024, the US EPA announced new guideline levels for 4 PFAS chemicals. The graph above shows that the 2017 Australian Guidelines for PFOA are 140 times higher than the new US guidelines (and 1250 times lower than the Australian 2016 guideline). The Australian guidelines do not have levels specified for PFNA and HFPO-DA (Gen X) chemicals. The European Union have even weaker guidelines: "... the European Union (EU), Sweden, Denmark and some states in the U.S. have also established single guideline limits for PFAS in drinking water. For example, the EU has limits of 100 ng/L for the sum of 20 PFAS and 500 ng/L for the sum of all PFAS in drinking water."

A confidential note to the South Australian Minister for Water on 24/4/2017, claiming that there are no known health effects on humans from PFAS, written about 3 weeks after the announcement that the Australian Government had reduced the 'safe' level of PFOS by 7.5 times, due primarily to potential health concerns! There is also no mention that for years SA Water had been providing biosolids to farms sourced from sewerage treatment plants. STP's are a major source of PFAS contamination.

Australian detections in drinking Water 

FoE has compiled a database of about 450 detections from 66 locations of PFAS chemicals in drinking water supplies across the country. Many of the detections have occurred in groundwater, whilst most other samples have occurred in raw water prior to treatment, but nevertheless the information is a useful indicator and certain trends become apparent after assessing the information.

The average level for all PFOS+PFHxS detections is 1480ng/L, with a mean of 10ng/L. The database is however heavily biased towards the high detections, with 7% of the detections (>1400ng/L) accounting for 94.4% total amount of PFOS+PFHxS. The database is also biased towards detections near the Williamtown RAAF base in New South Wales. In fact 74% of the PFOS+PFHxS (by volume) on the database is from near Williamtown, due mainly to the excessive testing and publishing of results from Williamtown.

The highest levels of PFAS contamination in Australia have occurred south of the Williamtown RAAF Base in New South Wales. The levels in the image above were recorded in 2016. Higher levels were recorded in 2017. Note that 100ug/L is equal to 100,000ng/L. Many people living in this area are reliant on bore water. This water was used for drinking and showering, swimming pools, home gardens etc. Animals such as chicken and cattle have also been impacted, as have a range of wild animals. The Pump Station pins relate to old bores used for water production by Hunter Water. Stations 7 & 9 were isolated from production in 2014 and the other bores had been used infrequently over the previous decade. Hunter Water's PFAS monitoring data can be found here and detections have been well under the Australian Guidelines, but in rare instances would be in breach of new US PFAS guidelines. Residents in the polluted zone were part of a 'successful' class action that was concluded in 2020.

Map of Katherine in the Northern Territory showing the highest levels of PFAS were recorded in Zone 1, which extends east of the Tindal RAAF base all the way into Katherine. Like Williamtown, people reliant on bore water have been the most impacted by PFAS. Some bores near Katherine recorded PFOS+PFHxS at 60 times the Australian guideline level.

According to the FoE data, 30% of PFAS drinking water detections, in ~17 localities supplying approximately 55,000 people were in breach of the PFOS+PFHxS drinking water guideline levels. However, if the new U.S. guidelines were implemented in Australia, where the guideline level of PFOS/PFHxS is dropped from 70ng/L to 4ng/L, the number would increase to almost 69% of detections in 37 localities (500,000 people) in breach of the guideline level. There were no detections of PFOA exceeding the Australian drinking water guideline.

Class actions implemented against the Federal Government and resolved in February 2020 (Williamtown, Katherine and Oakey) and May 2023 (Wagga Wagga, Richmond, Wodonga, Darwin, Townsville, Edinburgh and Bullsbrook saw tens of thousands of residents compensated for pollution and harm caused by the Defence Department. There has also been a $57 million redress scheme for fire fighters exposed to PFAS and other toxins at Fiskville in Victoria. So PFAS has already impacted tens of thousands of people in Australia.

Under the current Australian guidelines if PFOS+PFHxS is detected in raw water at levels <70ng/L and PFOA is detected at levels <560ng/L no further investigation is warranted by water authorities. However if the Australian guideline level is reduced to 4ng/L (the new U.S. Guideline) that would mean that a host of PFAS detections would warrant testing in the reticulated water systems.

Moorabool Water Treatment Plant which supplies ~90,000 people (35% of Geelongs's population) in the Geelong (Victoria) area with drinking water. PFOS detections in raw water have averaged 4.3ng/L over the past 6 years.  This equates to just over 6% of the Australian Guideline level, but is higher than the US Guideline. This would warrant further investigations into the source of the PFAS and reticulated tap sampling, however under Australian guideline levels, this is unnecessary. Where has the PFOS come from?

It should be stated that the amount of people exposed to PFAS chemicals above guideline levels would be far lower as most of the detections of PFAS would have been detected in raw water (pre-treatment) and not all people in those communities (particularly in larger towns) would be supplied drinking water from the water source where the PFAS was detected. However for some areas including residents relying on bore water and some communities where PFAS has been detected at unsafe levels, well after the PFAS has been used in the area, there is no denying that they would have been exposed at levels above guideline levels for long periods of time. What health impacts are now being revealed in people who have been drinking PFAS tainted water for years and potentially decades?

PFAS hotspots include Williamtown, Norfolk Island#, Oakey, Katherine, Jervis Bay/Wreck Bay, Ayr, Uralla and Macknade with a combined population of ~22,000 people. Although the highest levels were detected in Williamtown, the largest populations impacted would be Katherine and Ayr. (# Most (90%) of Norfolk Island's 2000 residents receive their drinking water from rainwater tanks).


Ayr Fire Station recorded PFAS levels at up to 9100 times higher than the ADWG's The station lies about 600m from the Nelsons Borefield, a source of Ayr's drinking water. Two bores from this borefield were shut down as early as 2018 due to PFAS contamination, with the highest PFOS+PFHxS levels of 680ng/L recorded in April 2023. Two bores 3 & 4 continue to operate as emergency supplies despite one of these bores having a PFOS+PFHxS detection of 54ng/L in 2023. Another bore (near local council offices had a PFOS+PFHxS detection of 55ng/L in 2023. Not all of Ayr's drinking water is supplied from the contaminated borefield with several others being used. Maximum levels in Ayr's reticulated drinking water in 2023 was 69ng/L with an average of 22.7ng/L (five times higher than the new US Guideline)  Is the Ayr scenario the most significant Australian PFAS issue in a domestic water supply? Use of 3M Lightwater at the Fire Station was apparently stopped in 2003, but use of fire fighting foam containing PFAS in Australia occurred since the 1960's. Sampling of tap water by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services in 2016 revealed PFOS+PFHxS at 22ng/L.

Top 75 PFAS detections in Australian drinking water supplies sourced mainly from the Australian PFAS Map

Current Australian guideline for PFOS+PFHxS is 70ng/L. PFOA 560ng/L

New (April 2024) U.S. Guidelines PFOS 4ng/L, PFOA 4ng/L, PFHxS 10ng/L, PFNA 10ng/L and HFPO-DA (commonly known as GenX Chemicals) to 10ng/L

  Date Location   Amount Comments
1. 2017 Williamtown (NSW) PFOS 136,000ng/L Recorded near in a bore south of the RAAF Base Williamtown. Many residents living near the air base were reliant on bore water.
2. 2018 Bandiana (Albury Wodonga Military Area) (Vic) PFOS

118,000ng/L

Recorded outside of base, in residential area bore, but highly unlikely to be used for drinking water.
3. 2016 Cabbage Tree Road (NSW) PFOS 98,200ng/L Recorded south of RAAF Base Williamtown. Many residents on this road relied on bore water.
4. 2016 Williamtown (NSW) groundwater Bore PFOS 77,100ng/L Recorded in bore south of the RAAF Base Williamtown. Many residents living near the air base were reliant on bore water.
5. 2020 Ayr Fire Station PFAS chemicals 64,100ng/L Groundwater from the fire station was found to be between 7000 to 9100 times higher than the ADWG's. Some of the site eventually drains into Nelsons Lagoon, a source of Ayr's drinking water, which had bores closed in 2018 due to PFAS contamination.
6. 2017 Williamtown (NSW) groundwater Bore PFHxS 54,300ng/L Recorded near in another bore south of the RAAF Base Williamtown. Many residents living near the air base were reliant on bore water.
7. 2020 Airport Bore (Norfolk Island) PFOS + PFHxS 44,500ng/L PFAS has been a big problem on Norfolk Island with drinking water supplies contaminated. Unclear if the airport bore was used for drinking water. 90% of Norfolk Islanders however get their drinking water from rain tanks.
8. 2016 Williamtown Resident Bore (NSW) PFOS 38,300ng/L Highest PFAS levels confirmed in private residential bore.
9. 2018 Bandiana (Albury Wodonga Military Area) (Vic) PFOS+PFHxS 32,000ng/L Recorded outside of base, in residential area bore, but highly unlikely to be used for drinking water.
10. 2016 Oakey (Queensland) Residential bore PFOS + PFHxS 29,750ng/L Recorded near in a bore south west of the Oakey Army Aviation Centre. Many residents living near the air base were reliant on bore water.
11. 2017 Williamtown (NSW) groundwater Bore PFHxS 24,100ng/L Recorded near in another bore south of the RAAF Base Williamtown. Many residents living near the air base were reliant on bore water.
12. 2020 Town Watermill Creek Tap (Norfolk Island) Domestic Water Supply? PFOS + PFHxS 22,300ng/L Water from this tap possibly used for drinking water.
13. 2016 Cabbage Tree Road (NSW) PFOS 18,600ng/L Recorded south of RAAF Base Williamtown. Many residents on this road relied on bore water.
14. 2018 Garbutt Community Townsville (Queensland) PFOS+PFHxS 14,500ng/L Recorded in bore water north of the RAAF Base Townsville. Many residents living near the air base use bore water, but probably not for drinking.
15. 2020 Depot Tap 2 (Norfolk Island) Domestic Water Supply? PFOS+PFHxS 9,010ng/L Water from this tap possibly used for drinking water.
16. 2020 Depot Tap (Norfolk Island) PFOS+PFHxS 8,790ng/L Water from this tap possibly used for drinking water.
17. 2020 Town Watermill Creek Tap (Norfolk Island) Domestic Water Supply? PFOS + PFHxS 8,630ng/L Water from this tap possibly used for drinking water.
18. 2019 Mary Creek, Jervis Bay (NSW) Maximum PFOS + PFHxS 6,600ng/L Mary Creek is used for recreational and cultural activities by Wreck Bay and Jervis Bay Aboriginal community.
19. 2016 Cabbage Tree Road (NSW) PFOS 6,520ng/L Recorded south of RAAF Base Williamtown. Many residents on this road relied on bore water.
20. 2022 Avalon Airport (Victoria) Air Traffic Tower PFOS 5,800ng/L PFOS found in drinking water for staff at airport.
21. 2016 Uralla North (NT) Private Bores PFOS+PFHxS 4,200ng/L Recorded near in a bore north west of the Tindal RAAF Base. Tindal is located 15km east of Katherine.
22. 2015 Drinking water at Fiskville (Vic) Country Fire Authority Training College PFOS 4,000ng/L

So how did PFOS end up in the Fiskville drinking water supply when the experts said it wouldn't be there? 87,000 trainees went through the college during its operation. This story broke the news.

23. Nov 2016 Uralla North (NT) Private Bores PFOS+PFHxS 4,000ng/L Recorded near in a bore west of the Tindal RAAF Base. Tindal is located 15km east of Katherine.
24. 2017 Katherine (NT) Zone 1 Private Bore PFOS 3,600ng/L Detected in a bore west of the Tindal RAAF Base.
25. 2017 Williamtown Eastern Area Groundwater PFOS+PFHxS 3,410ng/L Pollution from Williamtown also extends eastward from the base and has impacted people there.
26. 2022 Avalon Airport (Victoria) Air Traffic Tower PFOS 3,080ng/L PFOS found in drinking water for staff at airport.
27. 2016 Uralla North (NT) Private Bores PFOS 2,800ng/L Recorded near in a bore west of the Tindal RAAF Base. Tindal is located 15km east of Katherine.
28. 2019 Mary Creek, Jervis Bay (NSW) Mean level PFOS + PFHxS 2,030ng/L Mary Creek is used for recreational and cultural activities by Wreck Bay and Jervis Bay Aboriginal community.
29. 2017 Williamtown Eastern Area Groundwater PFHxS 1,980ng/L Pollution from Williamtown also extends eastward from the base and has impacted people there.
30. 2019 Mary Creek, Jervis Bay (NSW) typical level PFOS + PFHxS 1,900ng/L Mary Creek is used for recreational and cultural activities by Wreck Bay and Jervis Bay Aboriginal community.
31. 2019 Captains Lagoon, Jervis Bay (NSW) Maximum PFOS + PFHxS 1,900ng/L Captains Lagoon is used for recreational and cultural activities by Wreck Bay and Jervis Bay Aboriginal community.
32. 2017 Williamtown Swimming Pool Region 1 PFOS 1,730ng/L Local swimming pools have also been impacted by PFAS chemicals. Ingestion can occur during swimming.
33. 2017 Katherine (NT) Zone 1 Private Bore PFOS+PFHxS 1,400ng/L Detected in another bore west of the Tindal RAAF Base.
34. 2017 Katherine (NT) Zone 1 Private Bore PFOS+PFHxS 1,160ng/L Detected in a bore at Katherine ~15km west of the Tindal RAAF Base.
35. 2017 Williamtown Swimming Pool Region 1 PFHxS 1,060ng/L Local swimming pools have also been impacted by PFAS chemicals. Ingestion can occur during swimming.
36. 2016 Williamtown Residential Bore PFHxS 1,050ng/L Another contaminated bore near Williamtown RAAF base.

37.

Sep 2018 Macknade (Qld) Bore 3. Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 1000ng/L Macknade in north Queensland has a population of over 200 people. A number of bores were found to contain PFAS, with the highest detected in Bore 3 by Hinchenbrook Shire Council. Bore 3 was shut off, but for how long had it contained PFAS for? 165ng/L was detected in this bore in July 2018.
38. 2017 Katherine (NT) Zone 1 Private Bore Urban PFOS+PFHxS 1,000ng/L Detected in a bore at Katherine ~15km west of the Tindal RAAF Base.

39.

Oct 2017 Katherine (NT) Aquatic Centre PFOS + PFHxS 840ng/L Contamination from Tindal RAAF base contaminating the aquatic centre.

40.

Jan 2013 Oakey (Qld) Pool at Ord Road PFOS 790ng/L Contamination from Oakey Aviation Centre contaminating the local swimming pool.
41. 2017 Katherine (NT) Private Bore PFOS+PFHxS 740ng/L Another contaminated bore in Katherine Zone 1.

42.

Apr 2023 Ayr (Qld) Nelsons Bore 6 PFOS + PFHxS 680ng/L High amounts of PFAS detected in this bore. The bore had been shut down and has not in operation after PFAS had been detected above ADWG's a couple of years earlier. Numerous detections above ADWG in this bore.

43.

July 2018 Bullsbrook (WA) Private groundwater bores. PFOS + PFHxS 560ng/L RAAF Base Pearce found to be polluting properties offsite.

44.

2020 PWS Hospital Tap 1 (Norfolk Island) Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 500ng/L PFAS chemicals detected at local hospital at over seven times the Australian Drinking Water Guideline.
45. 2016 Cabbage Tree Road (NSW) PFOS 500ng/L Several properties recorded PFAS at these levels along Cabbage Tree Road and other roads south of Williamtown.

46.

2020 PWS Hospital Tap 4 (Norfolk Island) Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 470ng/L PFAS chemicals detected at local hospital at almost seven times the Australian Drinking Water Guideline.

47.

2012/13

Oakey Toowoomba Water Supply Bore PFOS 450ng/L PFAS detected near Water supply bore at Oakey.

48.

Nov 2016 A well near Bicentennial Road (Katherine) PFOS + PFHxS 450ng/L Bore water, probably in use for years.

49.

2020 PWS Hospital Tap 3 (Norfolk Island) Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 340ng/L PFAS chemicals detected at local hospital at almost five times the Australian Drinking Water Guideline.
50. Oct 2016 Katherine (NT) Production wells near Water Treatment Plant PFOS+PFHxS 330ng/L By 2016 it was evident that a plume of PFAS contaminated groundwater could be impacting the water supply of Katherine.

51.

 2018 Ayr (Qld) Nelsons Bore Domestic Water Supply PFOS + PFHxS 310ng/L High amounts of PFAS detected in this bore. The bore had been shut down and has not in operation after PFAS had been detected above ADWG.
52. 2018 Wagga Wagga (NSW) Groundwater Bore PFOS+PFHxS 300ng/L PFAS chemicals leaching from RAAF Base Wagga, has impacted local groundwater bores. There were unlikely to supply drinking water. Fish Farm nearby was effectively ruined by the PFAS contamination from the base.
53. 2016 Williamtown (NSW) rainwater tank PFOS 290ng/L Confirmation that local rainwater tanks had been contaminated with PFAS.
54. 2017 Katherine (NT) Zone 2 urban private bore PFOS 290ng/L The most serious PFAS contamination from Tindal RAAF occurred in Zone 1, but Zone 2 was also impacted at levels above ADWG.
55. 2018 Bundaberg (Qld). Dr Mays Road Bore. Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 270ng/L PFAS contamination of a bore in the south western area of Bundaberg supplying drinking water to the suburb of Svensson Heights (population 3,200) was found to be contaminated with PFAS chemicals. Source of the contamination could be local airport and tip. PFAS was also detected in groundwater at Bundaberg West at 25ng/L.
56. 2015 Williamtown (NSW) Pump Station #9 PFOS 250ng/L PFAS detected in groundwater near Hunter Water Pump Station #9. Hunter Water provide drinking water to 600,000 people in the Lower Hunter region including Newcastle. Station #9 had been isolated from water production in 2014 as a precuationary measure.

57.

2022/23 Ayr (Qld) Nelsons Bores 3 & 4 PFHxS 180ng/L High amounts of PFAS detected in this bore. These bores have apparently not been shut down and are used for emergency use only.

58.

Dec 2020 Macknade (Qld) Bore 4 Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 158ng/L Macknade in north Queensland has a population of over 200 people. A number of bores were found to contain PFAS.

59.

Apr 2019 Esperance (WA) Hammersley Street Bore Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 130ng/L Bore switched off in March 2019 after PFAS was detected. 6 bores supply the Paine Road Water Treatment plant.

60.

Nov 2020 RAAF Base Richmond (NSW) PFOS+PFHxS 120ng/L PFAS contaminated groundwater on edge of RAAF base North Richmond. PFAS has been detected in wetlands near the site with residents warned. Unlikely to be used by residents for drinking water.

61.

Apr 2023 Ayr (Qld) Nelsons B1 PFOS+PFHxS 116ng/L High amounts of PFAS detected in this bore. The bore had been shut down and has not in operation after PFAS had been detected above ADWG.

62.

March 2018 Wangaratta (Vic). Ovens River. Domestic Water Supply PFHxS 110ng/L No explanation from North East Water about the source of PFAS detected in the Ovens River.

63.

2021 Mission Creek (Norfolk Island) Tap 4 Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 110ng/L Potentially used by people for drinking.

64.

2017 Katherine River (NT) PFOS+PFHxS 100ng/L Average PFAS detections in the Katherine River. 90% of Katherine's drinking water was supplied by the Katherine River with 10% from bores many of which had been polluted by PFAS.

65.

Oct 2018 Ayr Water Tower Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 84ng/L More evidence that the community of Ayr had been drinking PFAS contaminated water, possibly for some years.

66.

July 2018 Paterson Parade, Lucinda (Qld) Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 83ng/L PFAS detected in small community of Lucinda's drinking water supply. Lucinda has a population of 400 and is connected to the supply from Macknade.

67.

April 2018 Proserpine (Qld) Bore PFOS 80ng/L PFAS detected in a bore near the Proserpine showground. Apparently the bore was not used for drinking water at the time of the detection.

68.

July 18 Dungeness sample point, Lucinda (Qld) Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 80ng/L Another sampling point in the small community of Lucinda recording PFOS+PFHxS above Australian guideline levels.

69.

Dec 2012 Oakey (Qld) Community House Domestic Water Supply PFOS 80ng/L PFOS detected outside of Oakey Aviation Centre as early as 2012.

70.

July 2018 Macknade (Qld) Sample Point 2 Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 78ng/L Another contaminated sample point at Macknade.

71.

Oct 2018 Ayr (Qld) Council Chambers Taps Domestic Water Supply PFHxS 77ng/L Bore water supplying a portion of Ayr was found to be polluted with PFAS in 2018. Some bores were shut down. Ayr has a population of 8700 people. Source of contamination probably from fire station.

72.

Nov 2022 Jandokot Airport (WA) PFOS+PFHxS >70ng/L Local residents informed that a PFAS contaminated plume had been detected offsite at Jandakot Airport. Residents warned not to water gardens or fill swimming pools. Water unlikely to be used for drinking.

73.

2022/23 Ayr/Brandon Reticulation Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 69ng/L Ayr water treatment plant obviously could not remove all PFAS from drinking water. How many years/decades has this situation been occurring?

74.

Oct 2016 Batchelor (NT) Domestic Water Supply PFOS 66.4ng/L Power and Water Corporation detected PFAS at unusually high levels in Batchelor's (Population 500) drinking water supply. What was the source?

75.

June 2018 Ayr (Qld) Nelsons Bore 5 Domestic Water Supply PFOS+PFHxS 66ng/L Another bore impacted by Ayr's PFAS problem.

Best water filtration to remove PFAS

Probably the major reason why Australian Water Utilities have in general not upgraded their drinking water treatment plants to properly treat PFAS chemicals IS THE Prohibitive COST of providing these treatments. These treatments are mentioned in the article published by The Conversation on April 18 2024, that the three best ways to reduce your exposure to PFAS chemicals in drinking water are Activated Carbon, Ion Exchange Resin and Reverse Osmosis filters. Some water treatment plants (but definately not all) already implement these measures but many people relying on bore water for example do not have the capacity to install and maintain these options for home filtration systems.

Katherine had a new treatment plant constructed in April 2022, costing $24 million to deal with PFAS contamination there. A new $47 million dollar treatment plant was announced for Ayr in November 2023.

It could be argued that not all of these three treatment measures are necessary to properly treat all of the many PFAS found in drinking water. However in Australia both “conventional and advanced” Drinking Water Treatment Plants are presently not designed to adequately treat PFAS to anywhere near the new U.S. guidelines.

This blog was initiated by a recent surge in interest regarding a blog on PFAS detections in Victorian drinking water supplies published 2 years ago by FoE Melbourne.

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