Mullumbimby PFAS investigation

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is doorknocking and talking to residents in the Mullumbimby area in early June 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 on Monday 3rd June.

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

PFAS has historically been used in a wide range of products, including firefighting foam before it was banned in 2021.

Finding PFAS in the environment does not mean there is a human health risk.

Town (tap) water is safe to drink and use.

It is important to assess if there are ways that people might ingest PFAS, such as drinking contaminated groundwater or consuming food products watered with contaminated groundwater.

PFAS has not been detected in waterways or the Brunswick River. Residents can continue to use the Brunswick River for recreational purposes such as fishing, swimming and canoeing.

Do residents need to do anything?

Mullumbimby residents are connected to town water which is safe to use.

As a precaution, residents of properties located near the fire station will be contacted to determine if they use groundwater at their property. If so, a request will be made to sample groundwater bores present on their property. Groundwater sampling is being offered to residents in the doorknock area.

Regardless of PFAS detections, it is recommended that people do not use groundwater to water home-grown fruit and vegetables. Town water is safe to use.

Additionally, NSW Health recommends that people do not use groundwater for drinking, cooking, filling up swimming pools and personal hygiene (including cleaning teeth and bathing) without testing and appropriate treatment.

Does PFAS affect human health?

Research into the potential health effects of PFAS is ongoing around the world.

Expert advice released by the Australian Government in February 2024 states that PFAS has not been shown to cause disease in humans and is “unlikely to cause significant negative health outcomes”. However, the advice cautions that PFAS exposure may be associated with mildly elevated cholesterol levels, effects on some hormone levels and on kidney function.

The Australian Government’s PFAS Expert Health Panel recommends limiting exposure to PFAS as a precaution. The NSW Government adopts this precautionary approach and it typically involves assessing and minimising human exposure pathways (limiting groundwater consumption or use, or seafood consumption) where threshold levels of PFAS are present.

The EPA along with FRNSW and Byron Shire Council will assist in keeping the community updated.

What is PFAS?

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.

More information

The Community can find more information on EPA’s PFAS program on the EPA’s website at: or by contacting the Environment Line on 131 555 or