Health Based Guidance Values for Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

This page contains information regarding health based guidance values for Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) for use in site investigations in Australia.

Page last updated: 16 September 2019

Contents:


Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s (FSANZ) report on Perfluorinated Chemicals in Food

In 2016, the Department of Health commissioned FSANZ to develop health based guidance values for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) and, based on these health based guidance values, conduct a dietary exposure assessment and provide advice on possible risk management options.

In April 2017, the Department of Health published FSANZ’s report on Perfluorinated Chemicals is Food (the report) which includes the derivation of the health based guidance values for site investigations in Australia, a dietary exposure assessment and risk management advice for authorities investigating PFAS contamination.

Based on FSANZ’s recommended tolerable daily intake, NHMRC has issued drinking water quality and recreational water quality guideline values for use in site investigations in Australia. These health based guideline values are levels at which the chemicals may be present in drinking or recreational water without presenting a risk to public health.

Plain English summaries, including FAQs, of the key components of FSANZ’s advice, and the full Report are available below:

The full report, including all supporting documentation, is available below:

Consolidated Report - Perfluorinated Chemicals in Food

Supporting Document 1: Hazard Assessment Report – PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS

Supporting Document 2: Dietary Exposure Assessment

Supporting Document 3: Summary of Other Controls for Perfluorinated Chemicals

Supporting Document 4: Criteria for the Establishment of Maximum Levels in Food

On 3 April 2017, the Australian Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy announced the publication of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), Perfluorinated Chemicals in Food report.


Health Based Guidance Values for PFAS for use in site investigations in Australia

The Department of Health has released health based guidance values for PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS for use in site investigations and human health risk assessments in Australia.

The health based guidance values are expressed as a tolerable daily intake (TDI) and can be used for assessing potential exposure to PFAS through food, drinking water and recreational water during site investigations for PFAS contamination in Australia.

More information is available in the health based guidance values factsheet below:


Interim Health Based Guidance Values (HBGVs) for PFAS for use in site investigations in Australia

The interim HBGVs adopted by Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth) have now been replaced. For the current health based guidance values for site investigations in Australia, please see the section above, ‘Health Based Guidance Values for PFAS for use in site investigations in Australia’.

Interim national guidance was developed by enHealth, which is a subcommittee of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), to assist relevant authorities in assessing any public health risks associated with the contamination of sites in Australia with PFAS. The guidance included HBGVs, in the form of a tolerable daily intake (TDI) for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) for use in assessing food, drinking water and recreational water.

This interim guidance was endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on 15 June 2016.

In its interim national guidance, enHealth recommended that FSANZ undertake an assessment of the available toxicity data of PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS and publish relevant reference values to replace the interim toxicity reference values recommended by enHealth.

In June 2016, the Australian Government Department of Health commissioned Food Standards Australia New Zealand to develop advice on health based guidance values for PFOS, PFHxS and PFOA for Australia.

On 4 August 2016, the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, announced the appointment of Adjunct Professor Andrew Bartholomaeus to conduct an independent review of the interim human health reference values used to set guideline values for PFAS in drinking water.

The Review confirmed that the interim values adopted by enHealth were appropriate and protective of public health. The Review supported the adoption by enHealth of standards set by the European Food Safety Authority for use in site-specific human health risk assessments, as an interim measure.

A summary of the key findings of the independent review of enHealth's interim values can be accessed below.

The full report of the independent review is available below.

The interim health reference values have been replaced. The enHealth values were always meant to be interim until such time as FSANZ completed its review that takes into account the data, parameters and methodology that are most suitable to Australia. More information on the current guidance values is available in the section Health Based Guidance Values for PFAS for use in site investigations in Australia above.