Hunters with ducks in their freezers are being warned not to eat the birds if they were bagged near a Victorian defence base due to elevated levels of toxic firefighting chemicals.
Department of Defence testing for PFAS – per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances – found elevated levels in the Heart Morass Wetlands next to the East Sale base, Environment Protection Authority Victoria says.
Fish, eels and ducks have all been contaminated.
Recreational fishers and duck hunters are being warned not to consume animals caught or shot in the wetlands.
“With duck hunting season recently closed, there may be hunters with frozen ducks with PFAS concentrations that should be disposed of,” EPA Victoria said in a statement.
“This precautionary health advice will be reviewed following the completion of the formal assessment, expected to occur by late December.”
PFAS comes from firefighting foam, widely used by civil and military firefighters around the world since the 1970s because of its effectiveness quelling aviation fuel fires.
Its use was discontinued in the 2000s when it was realised chemical contaminants persisted in the environment and could leach into groundwater.
The full effects of PFAS exposure on human health are not known but authorities say adverse outcomes can’t be ruled out.
However it’s common for people to have low levels in their blood, due to everyday exposure.
Firefighting foams containing PFAS have also been linked to contamination around air force bases at Oakey in Queensland and Williamtown in NSW.
Department of Defence has commenced a national program to investigate and manage the impacts of PFAS near some of its bases across the nation.
Victorian sites currently under investigation include the RAAF Base East Sale, HMAS Cerberus and Bandiana Military Area.