The federal Health Department has established an expert health panel to determine how PFAS chemicals affect humans.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the panel is accepting submissions from the public to hear their concerns about the potential health effects of PFAS and their views on priorities for future research
“An expert health panel for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been established to review the current literature on potential health effects of PFAS exposure and identify priority areas for research,” Professor Murphy said.
“The panel’s work will also ensure that communities are being provided with up to date and independent information on the potential health effects associated with PFAS exposure.
The panel will consider international scientific research into the potential human health effects of PFAS exposure.
“The panel will also provide advice on priority research areas to the National Health and Medical Research Council to inform the $12.5 million Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances – National Health Research Program, which will be delivered as a targeted call for research,” Professor Murphy said,
The Panel Members are:
- Professor Nick Buckley (Chair)
- Professor Malcolm Sim
- Dr Ki Douglas
- Professor Alison Jones
- Professor Helen Håkansson (International Representative)
“All of the panellists have demonstrated expertise in the fields of environmental health, toxicology, epidemiology and/or public health,” Professor Murphy said.
The public consultation period opened today and will close on November 19.
Submissions can be made to the Panel by visiting allenandclarke.com/pfas.
The panel will provide its advice to the federal health minister in late February 2018.
There is debate among medical experts about whether or not there is consistent evidence which proves PFAS is harmful to humans.
A department of health spokeswoman said “there is currently no consistent evidence that exposure to PFOS and PFOA causes adverse human health effects”.
The United States government said “studies indicate that exposure to PFOA and PFOS over certain levels may result in adverse health effects”.
QLD environmental medical specialist Andrew Jeremijenko said the Australian health department's assertion “ is simply not true”.
“The health department has to be much clearer with its messaging,” Dr Jeremijenko said.
“We know there are health effects, there is credible data which shows there are health effects.
“We need to get the message clear, this is a bad chemical which has been banned for good reasons,” he said.
The United Nations has concluded that numerous health effects are associated with PFOA exposure in humans including ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, pregnancy-induced hypertension.
The International Agency on Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified PFOA as a class 2b carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans).