EPA working with community after PFAS found in Mullumbimby

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is doorknocking and talking to residents in the Mullumbimby area after PFAS was found in groundwater.

The EPA and Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) undertook a door knock of 12 properties south west of the fire station yesterday.

Additionally, EPA staff will be out and about in the area this week door knocking around 68 properties as part of a precautionary approach to understanding more about groundwater use in the area.

EPA Director of Regulatory Operations David Gathercole said there isn’t an immediate health risk to residents as all properties in the nearby area are connected to town water, which continues to be safe to use.

“The town water is safe to drink but residents using groundwater should take precautions that limit possible exposure until further testing is completed,” Mr Gathercole said.

The precautions include:

- Avoid using groundwater, bore water or surface water for drinking, cooking or personal hygiene.

- Avoid eating home grown food produced using groundwater.

- Avoid swallowing groundwater and filling swimming pools with groundwater.

“We understand residents may have questions and concerns and want to provide them with helpful information and advice. We’ll be asking them about their groundwater use and sampling will be offered to residents in the area of the doorknock,” Mr Gathercole said.

The sampling will also assist us to better understand PFAS in the area.

The good news is that no PFAS has been detected in the local creeks or in the Brunswick River so recreational activities can continue, this includes boating, fishing, canoeing and swimming.

We will continue to keep the community informed while sampling is ongoing. Residents can also contact the EPA on Environment Line on 131 555 or email info@epa.nsw.gov.au.

Updates will be available on our website.

Background for journalist:

PFAS are a group of substances that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS). Due to their fire retardant, waterproofing and stain resistant qualities, these chemicals were widely used in industrial products and some types of fire-fighting foams worldwide.

PFAS can also be found in low concentrations in many consumer products like food packaging, non-stick cookware, fabric, furniture and carpet stain protection applications, clothing, and shampoo.

As a result, people are exposed to small amounts of PFAS in everyday life.

Products containing PFAS are being phased out around the world.