PFAS risks for firefighters to be examined

Issue date: Monday, 24 August 2020

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A parliamentary inquiry into PFAS remediation in and around Defence bases will hear today about the legacy risks of PFAS-based firefighting foams to firefighters at these and other sites.

Modern firefighters are exposed to a cocktail of toxic chemicals in many fire situations, and the United Firefighters Union of Australia says that the continued use of PFAS-based firefighting foams and PFAS contaminated water for firefighting is exacerbating those risks.

Chair of the PFAS Sub-committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade the Hon Dr John McVeigh MP said that the UFUA will discuss its work to reduce these risks nationally and its international advocacy for the elimination of fluorine-based firefighting foams under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

In its submission, the UFUA has indicated that the legacy impacts of PFAS on firefighters and communities near fire training grounds are the same as those for Defence personnel and communities living in and nearby Defence bases.

‘In the inquiry, we’ve been told that some communities outside Defence base remediation areas are not getting the support they need to identify and deal with PFAS contamination issues’, Dr McVeigh said.

‘The Sub-committee will want to learn about the UFUA’s efforts with other unions, fire service employers, environmental and medical scientists, and with Government agencies to achieve practical results for firefighters and PFAS affected communities in Australia and overseas’.

The PFAS Sub-committee’s program of review will continue the following week with evidence from the Macquarie University PFAS Clinical Study, which is based on blood samples from career firefighters provided by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade with assistance from the UFUA.

Public hearing details

Date: Monday 24 August 2020
Time: ~3:50 pm to 5:00pm
Location: Committee Room IR4, Parliament House, Canberra.
via teleconference

The hearing will be audio streamed live at

Media enquiries

Dr John McVeigh MP
Chair of the PFAS Sub-committee
02 6277 4277

For background information

For further details about the scrutiny process and the Committee’s public hearing program contact:
Committee Secretary
Sub-committee Secretariat
02 6277 2313

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