Fluoride Action Network

PFOS: Checks for Victorian firies over toxic fish

Source: The Australian | May 23rd, 2013
Location: Australia
Industry type: Perfluorinated chemicals

THE Country Fire Authority (CFA) will conduct health checks on Victorian firefighters who ate fish caught in a contaminated lake at its training college at Fiskville.

The CFA said the lake contained residues from firefighting foams previously used in training exercises.

Testing of flesh from four fish showed it contained PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), a chemical in foams used until 2007.

Toxicologist Dr Roger Drew analysed the possible effects of consuming fish and late last week advised that eating the fish would likely increase a person’s blood PFOS levels, the CFA said.

Elevated levels of PFOS could result in changes in blood cholesterol and blood lipids, which were indicators of risk for cardiovascular disease, it said.

The CFA said members had been advised not to eat fish from the lake, “No Fishing” signs were erected, and the fish were being removed.

Chief executive Mick Bourke said the CFA was not aware of any adverse health effects in those who had eaten fish from Lake Fiskville and was taking a precautionary approach by offering blood tests and welfare support.

Access to a health surveillance program would also be provided if needed, he said.

“CFA’s first priority is working with employees and their family members believed to have eaten the fish, and we will take all steps to identify if their exposure poses any health risks and to provide them with the support they may need,” Mr Bourke said in a statement.

He said the authority was continuing to undertake human health risk assessments, which were expected to be finished later this year.

It was unlikely that coming into contact with the water would cause any health risk, the CFA said.

Last year, a report into the training base found firefighters who trained there had been exposed to dangerous chemicals going as far back as the 1970s.

The CFA apologised for “draconian” practices that put about 87,000 people at risk of exposure to carcinogens.

An independent report into Fiskville declared the training ground now safe, but hundreds of firefighters have potentially had their health affected.

Anyone who believes they have eaten fish from Lake Fiskville is urged to call 1800 628 616.