“A large-scale contamination investigation in New Zealand is relying on a test that fails to detect a whole host of firefighting foam chemicals.

The level of contamination and the geographical spread of a harmful class of chemicals in New Zealand is being investigated by authorities.

Testing has been carried out at military bases, airports and a housing development in Auckland but scientists in the UK and Australia have told RNZ the standard test in use in New Zealand ‘does not begin to address the scale of the contamination problem’ people have been exposed to.

UK chemist Roger Klein said they were ‘only detecting the tip of the iceberg’.

New Zealand ‘might well’ have to go back and do its testing of contamination sites again if it had not been using the new method, he said.

The Defence Force so far has not said if it was using the new method.

‘The difference … can often be anything between 10 and 100-fold more fluorochemical discovered,’ he said.

The Environment Ministry said the Defence Force was not using the new test because, while it detected a broader range of harmful chemicals, the results could not be compared to drinking water standards.

The new test used an oxidation process that meant individual chemicals could not be identified, it said.

However, scientific literature makes clear the new test is in addition to, not in place of, the standard analysis…

Standard testing targets just 30 or so PFAS chemicals, but there are hundreds of others in foam, including some that convert into PFOA over time.

The wider testing regime boils a sample down so that standard testing can pick up the many ‘hidden’ fluorochemicals.”

Read the full article by Phil Pennington.