PFAS study delayed by COVID-19

A joint media statement from Professor Brendan Murphy, Australian Government Chief Medical Officer and Professor Martyn Kirk, Australian National University.

Date published:
Media type:
General public

The results of an epidemiological study into the potential health effects of exposure to PFAS,
—per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances— funded by the Australian Government, will be
delayed until mid-next year.

Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) were due to provide a final report
on their studies at the end of 2020. Due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, they now expect all elements of the study to be completed by mid-next year.

The study has been affected by travel restrictions, demand on general practitioners and
pathology services, restrictions on non-essential activities and re-assignment of the
researchers to urgent work associated with the pandemic.

The ANU Epidemiological Study area includes the towns of Katherine (Northern Territory),
Oakey (Queensland) and Williamtown (New South Wales). The study will include a cross-
sectional health survey and blood serum study, using results from the Government’s
Voluntary Blood Testing Program where individual consent was given.

While currently there is limited evidence that exposure to PFAS causes adverse human health effects the Government has funded the ANU Epidemiological Study to provide better
understanding of possible health effects.

The results are expected to be broadly applicable to other identified PFAS contaminated sites.


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