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 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 and surface water usage.

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 has developed a technical note on designing sampling programs for sites potentially contaminated by PFAS, which provides technical guidance for consultant investigations of PFAS in soil, groundwater and surface water for contaminated land assessment and management. 

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

Timeframes for the investigation

The initial investigations can take approximately six months, with further testing undertaken where required. 

Test findings are 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, and Commonwealth Department of Health.

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 that is consistent with the EPA’s requirements and processes.

PFAS National Environmental Management Plan Consultation Draft

The Heads of EPAs Australia and New Zealand (HEPA) and the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE) are working together to develop the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (PFAS NEMP). This will establish a nationally consistent approach to the regulation and management of PFAS.

Victoria EPA are leading the development and consultation process on a consultation draft document which will inform the final PFAS NEMP. To view the consolation draft and to have your say, please see the Victoria EPA website.

Victoria EPA will hold an information session on the PFAS NEMP Consultation Draft in Sydney on 5 September from 10am to 12pm at the Sydney Masonic Centre. Participants are welcome to dial into this meeting if they are unable to attend in person.

To register your interest in this information session please email before Thursday 31 August.

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Page last updated: 05 September 2017