“The Federal Government is being ‘complacent’ as researchers behind a study of the effects of PFAS contaminants still lack permission to use blood test samples and results from residents in Katherine, a doctor says.

In December, the Federal Government announced a $5.7 million support package for the Northern Territory town of Katherine, about 350km south-east of Darwin, to fund voluntary blood testing, counselling and an epidemiological study, after considering an interim human health risk assessment conducted by the Defence Department.

The epidemiological study will look at the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases stemming from PFAS exposure, and blood tests have also been carried out in the PFAS-affected towns of Williamtown in NSW and Oakey in Queensland.

The free blood testing became available for Katherine residents in March, with hundreds of people taking up the service after giving written consent for their results to be used as part of the study.

However, almost two months later, the Australia National University’s study team is yet to gain approval from an NT ethics body to use the data — and it only applied to obtain permission this month…

He also said that as of last week, the study team had also not begun analysing the results from Williamtown and Oakey, and the uncertainty was affecting residents, he said.

‘This does concern me that no-one appears to even have looked at the results from Williamtown and Oakey … combined with the fact that ANU still doesn’t have ethical approval to undertake any study here yet,’ Dr Spafford said.”

Read the full article by Tom Maddocks and Neda Vanovac