Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Expert Panel to consider new drinking water guidelines for PFOS and PFOA

Media release: 20 May 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has referred new water guidelines for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) overnight, to the Williamtown Expert Panel for consideration.

The US EPA advise on their website that “drinking water with individual or combined concentrations of PFOA and PFOS below 70 parts per trillion is not expected to result in adverse health effects over a lifetime of exposure.”

The amended US EPA guidelines reflect a level of 0.07 μg/L, below their previous drinking water guideline of 0.2 μg/L. The 0.2ug/L figure has been used as an interim guideline by the Williamtown Expert Panel.

The precautionary advice for residents and businesses in the Williamtown Investigation Area remains in place. This includes: not drinking or preparing food from private water bores, or water from dams, ponds or creeks in the Investigation Area. Town water remains safe to consume.  

As perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are an emerging contaminant, there are presently no guidelines established in Australia for assessing PFC contamination in the environment. EnHealth, the national Environmental Health Standing Committee, is currently working towards finalisation of guidelines in mid-2016. When finalised, it is the EnHealth determination that will inform safe drinking water guidelines for Australia.

The Expert Panel, led by the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Mary O’Kane and with representation from the EPA, NSW Health, the Department of Primary Industries, NSW Food Authority, Hunter Water and independent experts in hydrology and toxicology, will consider the US guidelines and provide comment back to the NSW EPA.

For more information about the NSW EPA’s state-wide program, visit http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/MediaInformation/pfcinvestigation.htm.

For specific health inquiries call NSW Health on 1300 066 055.

A dedicated mental health service is available for Williamtown community members on 0417 494 576 between 8am and 4pm Monday to Friday, or 1800 011 511 after hours.

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 20 May 2016