Bulletin No:         100                       Volume:  22                                        Tuesday 17 May 2016




On  June 26 last year the Parliamentary Inquiry into Fiskville handed down its interim report with a recommendation that firefighters be given blood tests for PFC’s including PFOS & PFOA.  A few weeks ago MFB FINALLY agreed to offer this to their employees after much persistence by the UFU. CFA has offered this testing  to their staff, they just forgot to advertise the fact.

Whist the UFU encourages all members to have this testing we are concerned about the information that is being circulated by both services about the ‘safe’ levels and ‘normal’ background levels that is being offered.

Both MFB & CFA are stating that normal background levels of PFOS in the Australian community is “below 100ng/ml.” Whilst this is technically correct, the actual background levels as published in the Toms et al study into firefighters’ PFC exposure (2014) is less than 10ng/ml, the median being 4.7ng/ml.

The other more concerning information being supplied by MFB & CFA is that blood levels under 2000ng/ml are considered safe. This safe level was apparently arrived at following a report by a toxicologist paid for by the CFA.  The studies of the early 2000’s that were looked at to come to this conclusion, were studies funded by Dupont and 3M, the makers of PFOS & PFOA.

During a recent US Supreme course case against Dupont, the court found these same studies showed “significant limitations and omissions”.

The CFA-paid toxicologist failed to look at the largest Australian study into firefighters PFC exposure, being the Toms et al (2014), or the internationally reviewed Grandjean et al (2012) study, that found exposure to PFOS & PFOA at low levels was cause for concern for human health.

The UFU has repeatedly advised senior management of both organisations of this information.

Last week the German Federal Government released a Human Health Study that reviewed all past and present scientific studies conducted over years. The findings have led the German Government to revise their ‘safe’ levels in blood serum for PFOS to 5ng/ml and PFOA to 2ng/ml. These levels are well below the 2000ng/ml that MFB and CFA advise their staff.

The UFU takes the health and safety of our members seriously, and will now seek an urgent meeting with both the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Officer of the Victorian State Government to draw their attention to this vital study and finding.


Strength in Unity


Authorised by Peter Marshall, Branch Secretary