Assessing effectiveness of PFAS exposure control in exposed communities and firefighters

The aim of our project is to investigate the changes over time in PFAS concentrations in the blood serum of individuals who are known to have elevated exposures to PFAS. Individuals from exposed communities in Williamtown, Oakey and Katherine and from exposed occupational groups such as firefighters who have previously had their blood collected and analysed for PFAS and have elevated PFAS concentrations in their blood serum are invited to take part in this study.

This research project is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and has received approval from The University of Queensland Human Research Ethics Committee, Approval Number: 2020002077 and the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Northern Territory Department of Health and Menzies School of Health Research, Approval Number: 2020_3923.

PFASs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are manufactured chemicals that are present in the environment, in foods and food packaging, various consumer products and in industrial applications, including fire-fighting foams. The extensive use, distribution and manufacture of products containing PFASs has resulted in widespread exposure of individuals and the environment. The general population is exposed to background levels of PFASs through food, drinking water and house dust. As a result, PFASs can be detected in blood serum samples of the general population. Certain populations have higher levels of PFASs exposure, particularly those who have produced or worked with these chemicals. Some communities living in environments that have experienced exceptional contamination may also be exposed to high levels of PFASs.

The current research study aims to measure change in the concentration of PFASs in blood of individuals who may have had higher exposure and to understand what factors are associated with the reduction of PFASs in the blood. Efforts have been made in exposed communities and occupational groups to control the exposure of PFASs in the environment. By collecting and analysing blood from individuals in exposed communities and occupational groups at different times, we can determine how effective these efforts to control exposure have been and to better understand why some individuals’ PFAS levels reduce faster than others and, for those people whose PFAS levels are not decreasing as we expect, try to understand why this may be the case. 

This study will also help us understand more about the relationship between PFAS levels and levels of other biochemical measurements of health. The study is designed to contribute to the broader research into PFAS exposure and their potential association with human health issues.

What will my participation involve?

Your participation in the study will involve the provision of a blood sample at two different times (two years apart). This will allow the researchers to measure changes in PFASs concentrations over time. You will also be asked to complete a survey.

Taking part in the study is entirely voluntary. More information about participation in the study is included in the links below.

All participants will receive a report tracking their PFAS levels over time, including results from their previous participation in either the Voluntary Blood Testing Program or Airservices studies.

Eligibility to participate

You will be eligible to take part in this study:

  • If you have previously had your blood collected and analysed for PFASs. This may be through the PFAS Health Study, The Voluntary Blood Testing Program for PFAS, studies conducted in association with Airservices Australia or if you have had private blood testing.
  • We are looking, primarily, for individuals with higher PFASs concentrations but also a smaller group of individuals who have had lower concentrations to take part in a control group.
  • If you would like to express an interest in taking part, please click the link below.

register your interest in participating

 

Information about participation in the study

Information for community participants
Information for firefighters and occupationally exposed participants

Frequently Asked Questions (coming soon)

If you have a specific question about the study or your participation, please contact us by using the link on the button below or the options provided in the Contact Us section.

enquiries or questions?

 

Counselling and Support Services

 

Links to information about PFASs

Learn more about PFASs from the current research and literature.

PFAS Australian Information Portal

Australian Department of Health - Information about PFASs

Australia - Expert Health Panel for PFAS: Summary

National Program of Research into the Human Health Effects of Prolonged Expsoure to PFAS

The PFAS Health Study - Systemic Literature Review

History and Use of PFASs

PFAS Fact Sheet Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF)

The PFAS Healthy Study - Focus Groups Study

 

Our research team are very keen to keep in touch with all participants and interested community members regarding the project.

While we had planned to regularly visit each community to present our findings, restrictions around COVID-19 have prevented this from happening so far. Until travel and holding face-to-face meetings is possible, we plan to hold regular webinar or online events where our research team can present current findings of the project and where our participants can ask any questions. Email updates will be sent to participants and will be updated on this webpage.

 

Study updates and Upcoming Events
DateEvent
December 2023

Information Session Recordings

If you missed the information sessions on 11th and 13th December, links for recordings and video of the sessions are below:

Session 1, Monday 11th December
Session 2, Wednesday 13th December

Thank you to all of our participants in the study. If you have not already provided your second sample for PFAS analysis, there is still time. If you require the pathology paperwork to be sent to you, please contact our office on 1800 370 760 or pfasstudyuq@uq.edu.au.

August 2023

Study Update -

With the second phase of blood sample collections now underway, the research team present an update of the project’s activities and findings thus far. Please click on the links below for a study infographic for each of our study cohorts.

Infographic for our Community participants
Infographic for our Fire Fighter participants

Early 2023

Second blood collections commence. Pathology paperwork will be sent in the mail. Please update any changes to your contact details by contacting our office or using the link on the ‘Contact Us’ page.

21/12/2021

PFAS results for participants’ first blood sample have been sent in the mail. Please contact us by phone or email if you have not received your results.

 

 

Project Team

Investigators

Professor Jochen Mueller

Professor Martyn Kirk

Professor Lin Fritschi

Dr Jennifer Braunig

Dr Leisa Toms

Professor Kelly Fielding

Dr Margaret Kay

Dr Lesa Aylward

Emeritus Professor Bruce Armstrong

Professor Cathy Banwell

A/Professor Deborah Glass

Mr Peter Hobson

Project Staff

Ms Shelby Marrington

Ms Leisa King

Contact Us

Project Staff

Shelby Marrington and Leisa King

E: PFASstudyUQ@uq.edu.au

P: 1800 370 760

M: 0419 110 176

General Participation Enquiries

Please call our toll free number, text or call our mobile or send us an email for any queries related to your participation.

P: 1800 370 760

M: 0419 110 176

E: PFASstudyUQ@uq.edu.au

Postal Address

PFAS Exposure Study

QAEHS

Level 4, 20 Cornwall Street

Woolloongabba QLD 4102

Australia

 

Your Community Liaison Officers

To assist communication between our participants, community members and the research team a Community Liaison Officer has been engaged in each community. Please feel free to contact your Community Liaison Officer if you have any questions about the study. You are also welcome to contact the research team on the numbers above. 

OakeyKatherineWilliamtown
Amanda EvansPosition currently open - looking for applicants.Jarrod Sansom
Phone: 0487 547 015 Phone: 0447 089 690
Email: aevans8724@gmail.com Email: jarrod.sansom4@gmail.com

 

register your interest in participatingenquiries or questions?