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PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals. There are thousands of types of PFAS.

Find out more in PFAS and EPA: A quick reference guide from Victoria’s environmental regulator (publication 1836).

PFAS in the environment

PFAS moves easily through the environment through surface water runoff and leaching to groundwater. Once in the environment, PFAS has a long half-life, which means that its components break down very slowly over time. Low concentrations of PFAS are found  in Australia, and across the globe. PFAS has been detected in soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater, biota and plants. 

For more information about the movement, bioaccumulation and adverse effects of PFAS in the environment, refer to the EPA publication 2049 PFAS concentrations detected in the environment in Victoria.

We continue to assess ambient concentrations of PFAS present in the environment (soil, water, sediment, groundwater),biota (plants, fish, waterfowl and livestock)  across the state. This helps us better understand the distribution and concentration of PFAS in the environment. We are also working with academia, industry and other government organisations to better understand fate and transport of PFAS in ecosystems. 

Information about storage, transport and disposal of PFAS-impacted materials and wastes is on the PFAS and waste page.

Emerging Contaminants Program 

EPA has an Emerging Contaminants Program which is dedicated to collecting and analysing the occurrence, concentration, and spatial distribution of emerging  contaminants in the Victorian environment. Understanding the presence and fate of these chemicals in Victoria’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems will help us to identify and determine the risk posed to these environments early.

For example, through this program,  EPA has conducted several sampling campaigns for a broad range of contaminants of emerging concern in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. Samples from the environment (freshwater, sediment, soil, groundwater), biota (fish) and plants have been collected and analysed for a suite of contaminants, including PFAS.

Emerging contaminants assessments

Read next

About PFAS

PFAS and EPA's role

PFAS and health

PFAS and waste

PFAS use in Australia

PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP)

Reviewed 2 October 2023