Jan 01, 2020

Australian Primary School Detects PFAS

Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School has detected the presence of PFAS.

australia water quality

An investigation into the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School in Tarro, Australia has determined that the chemicals do not pose a risk, according to Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW).

Human health and ecological risk assessment (HHERA) and further sampling will be done to address data gaps and guide the planning efforts for future vegetable gardens, a school kitchen and raising chickens, according to the Newcastle Herald.

The investigation recommends the concentration of PFAS in soil be reduced, so during the holidays excavation of soil and construction of a containment cell will be initiated. 

To reduce PFAS concentration in soil, measures will include: excavation; onsite containment or offsite disposal; construction of a containment cell and/or placement of clean fill; and surface reinstatement.

FRNSW became aware firefighting foam containing PFAS was used in training activities on land that became part of the school in 2014, reported the Newcastle Herald.

"PFAS was detected in soil, surface water (storm water) and groundwater samples," according to FRNSW’s letter to parents. "Concentrations at some locations exceeded human health and ecological guidelines...consequently, a site-specific risk assessment was undertaken. The results indicate that risks to people from exposure to PFAS, via incidental ingestion of soils (including dust) are low and acceptable."

The letter also recommends "normal management practices" be implemented, such as ensuring children are not playing underneath buildings and washing their hands before eating.

PFAS is likely to be migrating offsite via water and further investigation is required, reported the Newcastle Herald.

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