Airservices is Australia's air navigation service provider - we provide air traffic control, aviation rescue and fire fighting and air navigation services.

National PFAS Management Program

National PFAS Management Program

Airservices has been actively and responsibly managing issues arising from the use of fire fighting foams now known to have contained per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) since it became aware of concerns in the early 2000s.

In 2007-08, Airservices commenced investigations at our training grounds, later expanding to include other Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) services facilities such as fire stations and workshops, which confirmed PFAS contamination. We are currently conducting a more detailed site investigations program to better understand the extent and level of PFAS impacts resulting from the historic use of fire fighting foam at airports where we operate and enable us to determine next steps.

The table below summarises the status of current investigations and results will be added as they become available.

Investigation status

Airservices ARFFS site PFAS impacts onsite Investigation status and reports
Avalon Airport (VIC) Confirmed at fire station. Site investigations underway.
Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine (VIC) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Site investigations underway.
Adelaide Airport (SA) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Adelaide Airport information sheet
Broome Airport (WA) Site investigations underway. Site investigations underway.
Karratha Airport (WA) Confirmed at fire station. Site investigations underway.
Perth Airport (WA) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Site investigations underway.
Port Hedland Airport (WA) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Site investigations underway.
Alice Springs Airport (NT) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Site investigations underway.
Yulara Airport (NT) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Site investigations underway.
Brisbane Airport (QLD) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Brisbane Airport information sheet
Cairns Airport (QLD) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Cairns Airport information sheet
Gold Coast Airport (QLD) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Gold Coast Airport information sheet

Media statement spear bore sampling

Further groundwater sampling report October 2017

Media statement biota sampling March 2017

Biota sampling report March 2017

Media statement preliminary site investigation November 2016

Preliminary site investigation report October 2016

Preliminary sampling report October 2016

Hamilton Island Airport (QLD) Confirmed at fire station. Site investigations underway.
Mackay Airport (QLD) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Mackay Airport information sheet
Rockhampton Airport (QLD) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Site investigations underway.
Sunshine Coast Airport (QLD) Confirmed at fire station. Sunshine Coast Airport information sheet
Canberra Airport (ACT) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Site investigations underway.
Hobart Airport (TAS) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Site investigations underway.
Launceston Airport (TAS) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Site investigations underway.
Sydney Airport (NSW) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. Site investigations underway.
Darwin Airport (NT) Confirmed at fire station and fire training ground. *Note: investigations being managed by Department of Defence.
Townsville Airport (QLD) Confirmed at fire station. *Note: investigations being managed by Department of Defence.

Note: The following list of locations notes where ARFF services were not provided by Airservices: Essendon Airport (VIC), Moorabbin Airport (VIC), Parafield Airport (SA), Jandakot Airport (WA), Archerfield (QLD), Bundaberg (QLD), Eagle Farm (QLD), Mt Isa (QLD), Proserpine (QLD), Devonport (TAS), Wynyard (TAS), Bankstown (NSW), Tamworth (NSW) and Norfolk Island (NSW). Airservices was established in 1995 via the Air Services Act 1995. Responsibility for management of any potential legacy PFAS contamination from historic ARFFS operations at these sites is a complex matter that is currently being considered by the Commonwealth.

While it is still uncertain if there are any health impacts from exposure to PFAS, Airservices has worked proactively in this area for well over a decade to move away from PFAS-containing foams, conduct site testing and work with our staff to better under any potential exposure impacts from the historic use of these products.

  • From 2003, we began to phase out fire fighting foams containing perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), a common PFAS. Since 2010, Airservices has not used foam containing PFAS of any sort at all civilian airports where we operate.
  • Airservices has appropriately disposed of all legacy stocks of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) and AFFF-affected equipment such as Personal Protective Equipment, and appropriately cleaned our fire vehicles during the transition to a PFAS-free foam.
  • Airservices national PFAS program looks at the potential impacts across the entire airport arising from ARFFS activities, including potential offsite migration. These investigations are currently being undertaken in a staged approach. The results are shared with the airport and responsible Commonwealth and state regulators to determine appropriate next steps.
  • In 2013, we were the first fire service to engage toxicology experts from the University of Queensland to conduct a voluntary health study on our fire fighters and their potential exposure to PFAS. All of our 731 fire fighters employed at the time were invited to take part, with approximately 150 consenting to participate. The study included voluntary blood testing with results provided directly to staff and advice to speak to a medical professional if they had any concerns. This was done to provide them with a baseline as well as contribute to the research literature that was starting to emerge.

Airservices has sought to take a proactive and responsible approach to managing the PFAS issue by developing a better understanding of the issues through site assessments, implementing a research and development program, and continuing to work with relevant Commonwealth and State/Territory authorities to develop a nationally consistent framework and regulatory guidance for the ongoing management of PFAS across Australia.

We continue to implement a risk-based national program to better understand the extent and level of PFAS impacts resulting from the historic use of fire fighting foam at airports where we operate and enable us to determine next steps.

Airservices has been working closely with Commonwealth, State and Territory government health and environment regulators, policy agencies, airport owners and operators, and research institutions on initiatives in response to PFAS concerns.

Airservices is a member of Community Aviation Consultation Groups at each airport with an ARFF service and provides updates on progress at these meetings. Email pfascomms@airservicesaustralia.com for more information from Airservices.

Media enquiries should be directed to Airservices media on 1300 619 341 or media@airservicesaustralia.com