PFAS

PFAS FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

Tired of sieving through information on the web on PFAS? iEnvi have compiled some FAQs that might help.

HOW LONG DO PFAS STAY IN THE ENVIRONMENT?

PFAS with long carbon chains have estimated half-lives ranging from 2-9 years such as:

  • PFOA 2 to 4 years;
  • PFOS 5 to 6 years; and
  • PFHxS 8 to 9 years

HOW FAR CAN PFAS CONTAMINATION TRAVEL IN GROUNDWATER?

Depending on hydrogeological characteristics, the plume length of PFAS can be up to 10km or more, much greater than other contaminants, which are often less than 100m.

DO I HAVE TO CHECK IF MY SITE ACTIVITIES ARE A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF PFAS CONTAMINATION?

“I didn’t know” unfortunately is not a defence in all states in Australia when it comes to contamination of the environment.  If you suspect you have had PFAS substances, and they may have caused impact to soil or groundwater, you will more than likely be required to investigate the risk to human health and the environment in your state and should speak to an environmental consultant about what to do next. This may be a desktop analysis or might require soil, groundwater and/or other samples to be collected.

I ALREADY PAID FOR A CLEANUP AND GOT AN AUDITOR SIGN OFF – SO I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY, RIGHT?

Unfortunately, this may not be correct. EPA bodies may still require investigation and cleanup, and most states have “polluter pays” principles in regulation. EPA bodies are generally understanding of the impacts to business as long as you show you are trying to do the right thing.

I HAVE A PFAS ISSUE, WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

You firstly need to work out what the risk is, and you will likely have a duty of care to do this from a legal standpoint under environmental and health regulations in your state. To work out the risk, speak to an environmental consultant. You should start by gathering an inventory of what substances now, and historically, at your site are contaminated PFAS, and when and where they were stored, and what uncertainty there is. There are some useful treatments that are available for impacted soil and groundwater, and there is a PFAS destruction facility in Brisbane, QLD.

Speak to iEnvi if you need guidance on PFAS by emailing info@ienvi.com.au

Resources:

PFAS Factsheet – Australian Health Protection Principal Committee

PFAS National Environmental Management Plan 2018 PDF

Guide to PFAS NEMP – VIC EPA