“A GP and environment medicine specialist has described the Federal Government’s health advice on PFAS chemicals as “sick” and is calling for it to be changed immediately.

PFAS are a group of chemicals historically used in firefighting foam that includes a number of sub categories but the focus in Australia is on perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).

Dr Andrew Jeremijenko was one of many who made a public submission to the Government’s Expert Health Panel for PFAS and said the current national guidance was misleading the public.

‘It needs to be more accurate, it needs to reflect the scientific literature,’ he said.

Dr Jeremijenko said studies, including one done by the US Department of Human Services, showed links between PFAS exposure and health effects including:

  • Lower response rates to vaccines in children
  • Reduced infectious disease resistance
  • Increased hypersensitivity-related outcomes
  • Increased autoimmune disease incidence…

Dr Jeremijenko described advice given to residents in the Northern Territory town of Katherine last year to not drink bore water and to avoid eating local fish as ‘Monty Python advice’.

‘The Defence Force is going out to communities like Katherine and saying there’s no health effects … the bore water’s fine, it’s really not a big issue but we want you to drink this bottled water, not the tap water,’ he said…

‘A good message is we are taking this precautionary approach because we are concerned that these chemicals are associated with cancer, are associated with thyroid disease, are associated with liver disease. That is a much clearer health message.’

PFOS was added to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants nearly a decade ago in 2009 and Dr Jeremijenko said he did not understand why Australia had not ratified it.”

Read the full article by Georgia Hitch.