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Media Release: The facts about PFCs (PFOS and PFOA) in Rapid Creek

06 May 2016

The NT EPA, in collaboration with the Department of Health investigated PFC (PFOS, PFOA) levels in surface water at 20 sites around Darwin Harbour in February this year.

At that time the levels in Rapid Creek and Ludmilla Creek were elevated compared to other samples, although below the CRC Care draft interim national standards for recreational use water quality.

The levels of PFOS recorded by the NT EPA and Save Rapid Creek are very similar.

The NT EPA found an average PFOS level in Rapid Creek (12 samples) in February of 0.34 ug/L (range 0.04-0.4 ug/L), compared to 0.35 ug/L from two sample taken by Save Rapid Creek in April.

The NT EPA PFOS samples from Ludmilla Creek (2 samples) averaged 0.75 ug/L (range 0.37-1.2 ug/L) with the Save Rapid Creek single sample recorded as 0.36 ug/L in April.

The draft default national guideline for PFOS in fresh and marine water in slightly to moderately disturbed systems (95% species protection) is 0.13 ug/L

As previously stated by the NT EPA these preliminary figures are of concern, although insufficient to provide definitive information on the appropriate level of concern, or understanding of the distribution or origins of the PFOS.

The NT EPA is collaborating with the Department of Health,the Department of Defence and others to develop a comprehensive assessment strategy. This will involve identification of potential sites of PFOS accumulation, as well as additional sampling at more sites, and including ground water and sediment as well as surface water.

About PFOS and PFOA

PFOS and PFOA belong to the perfluorinated class of manufactured chemicals (PFCs) that were historically used in fire-fighting foams, furniture and carpet treatment for stain resistance, fast food or packaged food containers, make up and personal care products and cleaning products and have been used around the world. PFOS is still produced in several countries.  PFOA for example was formerly used to make Teflon.

PFOS and PFOA are the PFCs of most concern as they are stable chemicals that do not break down in the environment, bioaccumulate and are persistent. PFOS is currently listed in Annex B under the Stockholm Convention which has restricted use. PFOA its salts and PFOA related compounds is currently listed under the Stockholm Convention for review.

Media contact Helen Farquhar 0437 458 213