Youth do not buy into PFAS hype

PFAS LEGACY: Young people in Katherine are tired of the PFAS debate.
PFAS LEGACY: Young people in Katherine are tired of the PFAS debate.

Some Katherine youth feel PFAS contamination is not as severe as many are making it out to be.

Some young people in Katherine have grown tired of the PFAS debate and feel Katherine has fallen victim to a political football match. 

PFAS is a historic issue which will affect generations of Katherine residents, well into the future. 

Year 11 student Rodney Nyandoro agreed blood tests would not do much for the town. 

“PFAS has been in our water for a long time now,” Mr Nyandoro said. 

“There is no point to torture people by increasing fear among the residents when they find out they have high level of PFAS in their blood.

“This should be stopped, the government is the issue not PFAS,” he said. 

Alina Biju is a Year 11 student from Katherine High School who is on work experience with the Katherine Times this week.

Alina Biju is a Year 11 student from Katherine High School who is on work experience with the Katherine Times this week.

Mr Nyandoro said he was confident the town water was safe to drink. 

"A child can only be scared of fire after having been burnt by it, but before that, the fire is just one of the toys they can play with,” Mr Nyandoro said. 

“Therefore until there is enough evidence that PFAS have detrimental health effects on humans, the town water is safe to drink.”

Year 12 student Alisha Biju said she felt skeptical about the severity of the situation.

“I don’t really know, what to say really,” Ms Biju said. 

“From what I know, it is a severe issue and the safety of residents is a big question mark. 

“I was traumatized by hearing that our town was contaminated by PFAS. I am hoping that the leaders who represent us will do the necessary,” she said.

Year 11 student Kirsten, who did not want her surname used, said people who live in Katherine are afraid.

“It is no longer a topic that we read about, it's something we have to live with and adapt to as we go,” Kirsten said. 

“The contamination does not affect me personally. Because I live on town water and not on bore water, I feel there isn't too much of an issue for my health, and that those in a similar situation are perhaps exaggerating a little. 

“However, for those who live solely on bores and aquifers that have been contaminated, I feel it is a severe issue that needs to be addressed,” she said.  

“PFAS is found in such small doses in town water that it isn't really too worrying. Everything has poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.” 

Kirsten said blood tests were no great victory for Katherine. 

“Many people have been demanding blood tests from the government, so it just seems the government is doing what was expected of them at this situation,” Kirsten said.  

“In actual reality, the blood tests won't achieve much, we already know about the contamination, and know we've been exposed to PFAS for some time now. 

“The tests are really only going to confirm what we already know; that we've been exposed to PFAS.”

Year 11 student Alisha Knotze said she would like to see more research on how PFAS affects humans.

“Regardless of the scientific evidence, I feel like it is a matter of being cautious, as it bio accumulates and bio magnifies within its environment,” Ms Knotze said. 

“If there ever was found to be biological side effects, the fact that it can accumulate within the environment and the body is concerning.”

Alina Biju is a Year 11 student from Katherine High School who is on work experience with the Katherine Times this week.