Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) is investigating the presence of per-and-poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination from the historical use of fire-fighting foams at the Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Tarro.
Fire -fighting training using PFAS-containing foams occurred at the site for several years, when it was a vacant lot.
FRNSW is undertaking a preliminary site investigation and has engaged qualified consultants to undertake PFAS sampling on the school grounds. Preliminary results have identified the presence of PFAS in surface soils.
Finding PFAS in the environment does not mean there is a human health risk. The NSW Government adopts a precautionary approach to assess and limit exposure pathways to PFAS.
The primary ways in which people can be exposed to PFAS include drinking, bathing or swimming in bore or surface water containing PFAS or eating home grown food such as eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables produced using water containing PFAS.
Groundwater is not used at the site for any purpose and there are no surface water bodies present on site. While the school does grow produce on site including fruits and vegetables, FRNSW have indicated that the garden beds are raised with imported soils.
Further investigations on the school grounds by FRNSW will give a better picture of the extent of PFAS on and off-site; if there are any ways in which people might have contact with PFAS and if any precautionary advice is required for the school and community.
The EPA is providing expert advice to FRNSW and the school to ensure an appropriate scientific and risk-based approach is followed throughout the investigation. The EPA will work with all stakeholders to ensure the school community is informed of the results and any developments.