Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has received results of Department of Defence (Commonwealth) testing for PFAS (per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) on and in the vicinity of its East Sale site.

Preliminary results have indicated elevated levels of PFAS in fish, eels and ducks from the Heart Morass Wetlands located adjacent to the Department of Defence site.

People who have eaten fish, eels or ducks are not considered to be at risk of any adverse health effects.

However, EPA recommends that to reduce and prevent exposure to PFAS, recreational fishers and duck hunters do not consume any animals caught at the wetlands until further assessment can be undertaken by the Department of Defence.

With duck hunting season recently closed, there may be hunters with frozen ducks with PFAS concentrations that should be disposed of.

EPA is waiting for the Department of Defence’s formal assessment of testing results before further advice can be issued.

This precautionary health advice will be reviewed following the completion of the formal assessment, expected to occur by late December.


Department of Defence has commenced a national program to investigate and manage the impacts of PFAS on, and in the vicinity of, some of its bases around Australia. 

Victorian sites currently under investigation include the RAAF Base East Sale, HMAS Cerberus and Bandiana Military Area.

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.

Information regarding the health effects of PFAS and guidelines for PFAS can be found here: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-pfas.htm

Information about the Department of Defence’s national program to manage the impacts of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on, and in the vicinity of, some of its bases around Australia can be found, here: http://www.defence.gov.au/Environment/PFAS/

Reviewed 31 October 2019