The NSW Government has released precautionary dietary advice for six fish species caught in the Currambene Creek after testing found levels of PFAS (per and poly fluoroalkyl) substances.
This advice has been released by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) following fish sampling conducted by the Commonwealth Department of Defence (Defence) as part of their investigation into PFAS from HMAS Albatross, which found levels of PFAS in the six species.
The advice will guide recreational fishers who frequently consume eastern sea garfish, estuary perch, luderick (blackfish), mulloway (Jewfish), sea mullet and silver trevally from Currambene Creek to safely manage their personal intake of these fish.
It follows on from the EPA’s similar warning over the Shoalhaven River in November last year.
Per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).
As they have heat, water and stain repelling properties, PFAS have been widely used in a range of industrial and consumer products both in Australia and internationally, including in fire retardants, water proofing, food preparation, food packaging, furnishings, clothing and recreational equipment.
There is no consistent evidence of any human health effects related to PFAS exposure. However, based on the evidence from animal studies potential adverse health effects cannot be ruled out.
The NSW Government is therefore taking a precautionary approach to investigating PFAS and providing advice to the community.
The current advice is -
The EPA said recreational fishers who frequently catch and eat their own fish from Currambene Creek can continue to do so safely, but should follow the dietary advice.
The advice does not impact infrequent consumers of these species including people who fish sporadically or might be visiting the area and commercial fishers can continue to sell fish they catch in Currambene Creek.
Defence also tested several species of fish in Jervis Bay and did not find high levels of PFAS in any of the species tested. Precautionary advice is therefore not required for the NSW waters of Jervis Bay.
The EPA has released tables which lists the number of serves of a single species that can be eaten each week to limit exposure to half of the health-based guideline value.
For children aged two to six years it is suggested they can have six serves of eastern garfish, four serves of luderick (blackfish) and sea mullet and one serve of estuary perch, mulloway (Jewfish), and one serve of silver trevally per week.
For other age groups it is recommended two serves of estuary perch, mulloway and silver trevally, while there is no recommended intake of eastern garfish, luderick and sea mullet.
Adult serving size is 150 grams and children serving size is 75 grams.
Recreational fishers should reconsider the need to consume multiple servings per week of freshwater species (like Australian bass and yabby) caught in the freshwater sections of Currambene Creek.
Species specific information is for when a single species of fish is eaten per week. Eating multiple species would result in a greater exposure.
For example for a child eating fish caught in Currambene Creek - one serve of either estuary perch, mulloway or silver trevally and one serve of any other species listed in the table in one week would exceed the recommended PFAS intake.
No dietary advice is required based on the reported PFOS and PFHxS concentrations. Concentrations were below the adopted trigger values in the samples analysed.
Consumption of offal in all species should be avoided.
Sand whiting, yellowfin bream and black bream were also sampled and tested from this region, but no dietary advice was necessary for these species.
Leatherjacket, blue spot flathead and bonito were sampled in Jervis Bay, and high levels of PFAS were not found in any of these samples.
No precautionary advice is required for Jervis Bay.
General fish and seafood consumption advice states that people should eat two to three serves of fish and seafood each week as part of a balanced diet.
Independent of the site-specific advice related to PFAS above, pregnant women and women planning pregnancy should see the following fish consumption advice published by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) relating to mercury www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/chemicals/mercury/Pages/default.aspx.
A reminder fishing is not permitted in sanctuary zones within the Jervis Bay Marine Park.
For more information on the state-wide PFAS investigation program call the Environment Line on 131 555 or visit www.epa.nsw.gov.au/MediaInformation/pfasinvestigation.htm.