Whitsunday Regional Council is working closely with the Queensland Government in response to the detection of per and poly-fluorinated substances (PFAS) in a groundwater bore adjacent to the Proserpine Showgrounds.
Testing has shown no PFAS was detected in the drinking water network, only in the ground water. This means the Proserpine town water supply continues to be safe to drink.
The affected bore was isolated immediately on the same day as the results were received, and will be switched off until further notice.
Water sampling undertaken by Queensland Health showed levels of PFAS above Australian drinking water quality guidelines in one bore located adjacent to the Proserpine Showgrounds, in results received on 11 April 2018. Queensland Health and the Council undertook further water testing on 17 April 2018, with results received on 23 April 2018.
While there is no identified risk to health associated with these findings, the Department of Environment and Science (DES) has undertaken further environmental testing around Proserpine to check for any broader contamination issue.
Of the 23 groundwater wells tested, 4 bores (not used for town drinking water supply) detected PFAS above the drinking water standard, but below recreational guideline values.
8 storm water drainage locations were tested and returned PFAS results below recreational guideline limits. This means there is no health risk associated with members of the public that may come into direct contact with storm water containing PFAS.
Surface water sampling did not detect PFAS in the Proserpine River or Lagoon Creek.
Council is continuing to work with DES and Queensland Health to investigate potential sources of the contamination, and future measures will include a groundwater use survey of bores within the relevant area.
Anyone concerned about their own health or that of family members should talk to their GP or call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
For any enquiries regarding the town water supply, please contact Council’s Customer Service Centre on 1300 WRC QLD (972 753)
What is PFAS?
Per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) such as PFOS and PFOA are a group of manufactured chemicals.
PFAS have been used since the 1950s in a range of common household products and specialty applications, including in the manufacture of non-stick cookware, fabric, furniture and carpet stain protection applications, food packaging, and some industrial processes including certain types of fire-fighting foams.
However the substances are not manufactured in Australia and are no longer directly used in consumer products.
National health-based guideline values have been established for PFAS in drinking water. These guideline values are very low, and are based on an assumption of lifetime consumption at the maximum tolerable daily intake. PFAS are found at very low levels in the blood of the general population all over the world.
To find out more visit the Queensland Government website, at https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/investigation-pfas/about.
A Queensland Government factsheet with more information about PFAS is available here.