Management of PFAS

Perth Airport is working closely with a range of Government agencies, including the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Airservices Australia and various WA State regulators in relation to PFAS management.

What are PFASs?

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, also known as “PFASs”, are chemicals that are, or have been, used in a wide variety of applications such as textiles and leather products, cookware, food packaging, floor polishes and in some types of fire-fighting foams.

Historically, fire-fighting foam containing two commonly used PFASs - Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) – was used by Airservices Australia’s Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF).  The known use by ARFF of PFASs was phased out at Perth Airport in 2010.

As PFASs have been found to be persistent and to accumulate in the environment a precautionary approach is taken by Government agencies regarding management of this issue. Perth Airport supports this approach and complies with all relevant guidance and direction from regulators on PFAS management.

PFAS is an emerging national and international issue and understanding continues to grow as further work is done by researchers, industry and regulators on how best to evaluate and manage these chemicals.

How is Perth Airport Managing PFASs on the estate?

PFASs have been detected on the Perth Airport estate, particularly in areas associated with fire-fighting activities. 

Airservices Australia has completed a Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) with limited sampling for PFAS contamination at Perth Airport to better understand the potential impacts from previous use of AFFF. The results of the investigation indicate the presence of PFAS in soil, surface water and groundwater at the airport. PFAS levels detected in soil samples were below the human health guideline values. PFAS was detected in surface water and groundwater above human and environmental health guidance values. ASA has provided a factsheet with regards to fire fighting foam at Perth Airport which includes information on the next steps being implemented by ASA and sources of additional information.

To ensure appropriate management of PFAS, Perth Airport supports the following activities: 

  • A primary investigation and management of ARFF legacy issues by Airservices;
  • Development of appropriate regulations and guidance by the Department of Industry and Regional Development and other regulators;
  • Implementation of additional controls and management measures as part of construction works in consultation with state regulators to manage PFAS; and
  • Appropriate risk review and management actions by operators on the airport estate.
Perth Airport will also continue to conduct regular surface and groundwater monitoring and continues to comply with all directions on this issue from the Commonwealth Government. 
It is important to note that PFASs have been used in numerous industries and applications, and have been detected widely across Australia. The presence of PFASs is not unique to Perth Airport and management of this issue is an emerging national and international issue.

Further information about PFASs