“The government now admits it’s “essential” to use a new, wide-ranging test to assess the health impacts of firefighting foam contamination, but the test is not being used.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of households around the country are within zones bordering sites of confirmed or potential contamination.

RNZ reported last week that a standard testing method is being used, which is good for detecting the two banned chemicals PFOS and PFOA.

However, a new test called a TOP assay or TOPA could also be used to find hundreds of similar long-lasting and harmful chemicals in the water or soil, which would otherwise go undetected.

The Environment Ministry last week said the standard testing was good enough, but a new statement from the all-of-government group set up to run the nationwide foam investigation contradicted that.

‘TOP Assays are valuable and provide summary level information about PFAS compounds in soil or water. They are essential in planning for long-term site remediation or for assessment of longer term potential health effects,’ it said.

A spokesperson refused RNZ’s request for an interview to explain why this essential test was not being used, saying the statement was all that needed to be said.

‘TOP Assays do not add to Defence’s ability to identify households at risk and therefore Defence is not currently using those assessment methods,’ the statement said…

If the foam investigation moved into a clean-up phase, the new test would have to be used, the all-government group said.

Regional councils nationwide had been told to identify at-risk sites from contamination by the wider class of PFAS chemicals by the end of March. It is unclear if they have done so.

Clean-up has proved extremely difficult and expensive overseas, so the preferred approach is to stop the chemicals getting out in the first place.”

Read the full article by Phil Pennington.