Airservices Australia recently completed a targeted PFAS investigation at the eastern side of Gold Coast Airport, including sampling spear bores of properties adjacent to the Airport, to better understand any potential off-airport impacts which may be directly related to historic aviation fire fighting operations.
This most recent investigation follows investigations and sampling conducted in 2016 and 2017, which found no detections or low levels of PFAS in soil and water at the airport boundary and no detection in seafood in the Cobaki Broadwater.
Despite these low results, Airservices decided to take a precautionary approach and address potential concerns for human health with further testing, including samples taken from 18 residential properties east of the Airport and from Coolangatta Creek. The sample sites were selected from residential properties immediately adjacent to the eastern boundary of the Airport to provide an appropriate geographic distribution to assess potential impacts. Independent environmental specialists GHD Pty Ltd conducted these investigations.
Analysis of all samples from the 18 residential properties and from Coolangatta Creek outside the airport boundary returned low results. All these samples were below the Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) recreational water quality values for site investigations based on the final tolerable daily intake levels for Australia. Six of the 18 samples from residential spear bores registered levels above the DoH drinking water quality values however Gold Coast residents are connected to mains water and therefore water from spear bores is not required as a drinking water supply. The GHD investigation concluded the health risk associated with the use of groundwater from these 18 spear bores for recreational and irrigation use was low. Airservices has provided the residents of the 18 properties with their individual results.
The overall results have also been shared with relevant Commonwealth and Queensland health and environmental agencies and Gold Coast Airport.
As part of our risk-based approach to responsibly managing PFAS concerns and ongoing monitoring of PFAS at Gold Coast Airport, Airservices will be undertaking more detailed investigations, including testing on-airport to determine potential migration pathways and off-site testing.
In the case of spear bore use, Queensland Health provides specific health advice on PFAS through Queensland Health’s PFAS fact sheet or call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
Airservices does not use fire fighting foam containing PFAS at Gold Coast Airport and stopped using fire fighting foam containing PFAS in 2010. According to the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, bore water in urban environments can carry any number of contaminants and should not be used for recreation or consumption unless it has been tested and known to be completely safe.