Oakey contamination: Hundreds gather for report
HUNDREDS of Oakey residents have gathered to hear details of the Department of Defence's Human Health Risk Assessment report tonight.
Defence Infrastructure Division first assistant secretary Chris Birrer and AECOM technical director Michael Jones briefed media ahead of tonight's community consultation session currently under way.
Mr Birrer said the Human Health Risk Assessment report, completed last week by independent firm AECOM, was "not the end story" but another milestone and that Defence would continue to work with Queensland Health, the Toowoomba Regional Council and other community groups to understand the full extent of PFAS contaminants.
Mr Birrer said the HHRA would not predict the health outcomes of exposure to contaminants, and the report had been designed to determine the key exposure pathways.
However, the report could estimate the nature and possibility of adverse health effects and assess the potential for current human health risks associated with contaminant exposures.
Mr Birrer said the report was "not a substitute for medical advice" and could not predict or be used to determine the health effects of individuals in the future.
He said it could not diagnose if existing health effects of residents was associated with past exposure to contaminants.
The HHRA identified 47 exposure pathways including drinking groundwater supplies, exposure to dust particles, the consumption of beef and sheep meat raised on land in the contaminated zone, and eating fruit and vegetables grown on Oakey land.
It analysed more than 1000 samples including 58 beef and lamb samples, and 46 fish samples.
When questioned, Mr Birrer said Defence would not release the results of the beef and sheep samples due to privacy issues.
Privacy issues surrounding personal blood tests meant no results from residents' individual blood tests have been released.
A "typical person" was identified as someone who lived in the town for 35 years or worked in either agriculture or commercial industries, including on the Oakey Army Aviation Centre base.
AECOM environmental consultation Michael Jones said the risk of PFAS contaminants to a "typical person" was low and acceptable if they didn't drink groundwater supplies.
Higher exposure was found in Zone 2 which was identified as areas outside the blue plume depicted in maps released by Defence in its Environmental Site Assessment report in July.
Critically, the HHRA found there was no increased risk to infants who had been brought up on breast milk.
Residents in Zone 2, identified as the core area in the identified contamination zone, have been urged to avoid bathing, swimming or cooking with groundwater, and to avoid "sprinkler plays" in groundwater.
All residents have been urged not to drink groundwater and to not eat eggs from chickens raised on the contaminated land.
Mr Birrer said further data and testing would be collected in relation to eggs to determine the cause of that pathway.
2.45PM: Drinking Oakey's groundwater and eating eggs produced in the contaminated zones around the Oakey Army Aviation Centre have been identified as the main exposure pathways of PFAS and PFOA chemicals in residents' blood samples.
In handing down its Human Health Risk Assessment report, the Department of Defence has reiterated its warnings residents should not drink groundwater supplies or eat eggs "from chickens that have consumed water containing detectable PFAS" levels.
The long-awaited report found incidental ingestion of groundwater from "indoor domestic use" led to elevated contaminant levels in some contaminated areas, with residents urged to "avoid or minimise the use of groundwater in Zone 2 for: showering and bathing; filling swimming pools and children's wading pools; and sprinkler play".
The report detailed the Oakey community was exposed to the chemicals in a range of ways but most were considered to have "low risk of health effects" including the consumption of locally grown beef or sheep meat, consumption of fish caught in local waterways and the consumption of locally grown fruit and vegetables.
Skin contact with water or soil during recreational pursuits on local waterways was found to have a low risk on potential health impacts or the incidental ingestion of water during household cleaning or irrigation.
1PM: The impacts of toxic firefighting foams on the health of Oakey residents will be handed down this afternoon.
The Department of Defence is due to publicly release the Human Health Risk Assessment report at a community consultation from 5pm.
The report relates to the impact PFOS and PFOA chemicals have had on the health of residents living in the identified contamination zone surrounding the Oakey Army Aviation Centre.
The report is expected to detail the results of blood testing done on residents, as well as testing into livestock produced on the land in which PFOS and PFOA chemicals have leached into groundwater supplies.
Department of Defence representatives will attend the session at the Oakey Cultural Centre due to start at 5pm.