Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

PFAS investigation program

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is undertaking an investigation program to assess the legacy of per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) use across NSW.

What are PFAS?

PFAS are a group of chemicals that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). They have many specialty applications and are widely used in a range of products in Australia and internationally.  

PFAS are an emerging contaminant, which means that they do not have established health standards; and their ecological and/or human health effects are unclear. The EPA is investigating to better understand the extent of PFAS use and contamination in NSW. This will enable the EPA to be better prepared to respond if any health and environmental impacts become known.

More information is available on the NSW EPA PFAS investigation program FAQs page.

 
 
 
 

Sampling and analysis

The EPA is collecting samples of soils and/or waters for analysis for PFAS. The EPA is also looking for exposure pathways that may increase people’s contact with the chemicals, such as bore water usage, surface water usage or fishing.

If significant levels are detected and human or ecological exposure is likely, a more detailed assessment will be undertaken.

Please see the EPA’s decision tree for prioritising sites potentially contaminated with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The EPA will work with the occupiers and owners of these sites to clean-up the site, where necessary.

Timeframes for the investigation

It is expected that the initial investigations will be completed within six months, with further testing undertaken where required. 

Test findings will be made available throughout the investigations.

More information is available on the NSW EPA PFAS investigation process page.

Working with our stakeholders

The NSW Government is committed to working closely with all relevant government agencies, to closely monitor the progress of investigations, and to keep local communities informed. Government agencies include local councils, NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW Health, NSW Food Authority, and where necessary the Commonwealth Department of Defence.

In NSW the polluter pays for and manages any clean up required. Although the NSW Government cannot regulate Defence sites, it has outlined expectations that Defence will carry out investigations in a timely manner, and consistent with the EPA’s requirements and national processes.

Page last updated: 08 February 2017