A university is conducting research into the health risks of living with PFAS in Katherine.
Only four people turned up to Thursday night’s first meeting at Knotts Crossing, which intended to provide the community with information about the Australian National University’s (ANU) epidemiological study.
ANU Study Coordinator and doctor, Katherine Todd headed up the meeting and set out the exacts of the three year study.
Ms Todd told attendees last night the study will be able to determine if people with a higher level of [PFAS] exposure will be more likely to have a disease.
“We will look back at the health outcomes and be able to tell if that is from PFAS,” she said.
If we find an association we will say we have found an association- ANU Study Coordinator and doctor, Katherine Todd
The ANU research team is led by Proffessor Martyn Kirk, who ran the ACT Asbestos Health Study, which examined the health effects of asbestos insulation on Canberra residents.
The study will combine the results of the blood testing currently being carried out by Gorge Health’s Dr P.J Spafford with information about the community’s health issues to possibly identify links between PFAS exposure and disease.
The meeting was a chance for the research team to engage people into focus groups and recruit three to four community members to sit on a “community reference panel”.
Meeting three to four times a year with the ANU research team, the “community reference panel” will act as a representative voice of the community and be able to provide feedback on the progress of the study.
“This study is about you,” Ms Todd said.
“If we find an association we will say we have found an association.”
Some concerns were brought up at the meeting by residents surrounding the governments involvement in the study.
“They don’t get to decide what we publish… we are an independent study,” Ms Todd said.
The ANU research team, involving international experts in epidemiology and exposure to chemicals, has already begun studies in Oakey, Queensland and Williamtown, New South Wales.
Ms Todd said the research team is concerned some of the Indigenous population has not been included in the voluntary blood testing for people who live and work, or who have previously lived and worked, in the RAAF Base Tindal investigation area.
The team said they will be making an effort to have focus groups in outlying communities.
Focus groups will begin in about six weeks.
To get involved or for more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Or head to the website here.
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