Emerging Contaminants Update – September 2016

Rebeka Hall attended a recent ALGA presentation about emerging contaminants and reports that:


  1. It occurs in detergents, personal care products, stabilising agent for 111 TCA, Dioxane will always be present when TCA or DCE present.
  2. Highly soluble in water, does not readily bind to soils (v low sorption (Log kow)), and readily leaches to groundwater, low vapour pressure, Likely a carcinogenic
  3. Currently no standard in Australia, US EPA criteria for groundwater <1ug/L but there is an analytical challenge in getting down to that reporting limit. EPA method 8260 and 8270
  4. Treatment technologies exist for exsitu and insitu
  5. Conclusion – still emerging, need Aust regulators to act, need to adopt lower water quality standards, and advance lab methods.

Residues from former clandestine drug laboratories  

  1. Residues are a result of illegal drugs using readily available chemicals by the reduction method cause public health concerns from exposure to toxic gases during ‘cooking’, as well as risk of explosions, fire, burns etc and dumping wastes – down drains or burn pits (in back yards)
  2. Real risk for unsuspecting public occupying a house (with former clan lab) with oily residues on walls, benches, floors, air conditioning units as this will cause asthma attacks and other respiratory issues and behavioural and sleep pattern issues.
  3. Australian Crime Commission (ACC 2011) has developed guidelines and criteria for surface area is 0.5ug/100cm2
  4. NSW health has developed a ‘Clan Lab bust guidelines’


  1. PFASs – man made chemical since the 1950s with key uses – Aqueous fire fighting foams (manufactured by 3M contains about 0.6% PFOS), stain resistant coatings, Teflon cookware, chrome plating
  2. It is stable, persistent, bio accumulative, acute toxicity there are THOUSANDS of these compounds, most common are PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS (hexan sulfonate)
  3. PFOS soluble, PFOA is even more soluble with a half life PFOS in water 41 yrs, PFOA in water 92 years
  4. Drinking water criteria: USEPA (19 May 2016) drinking water guidelines for PFOS and PFOA is 0.07ug/L where as Aust Enhealth guideline is 0.5ug/L for PFOS and 5ug/L for PFOA
  5. Soil criteria USEPA Region 4 PFOA 16mg/kg, PFOS 6mg/kg
  6. WA DER (Feb 2016) released an interim guideline on assessment and management of PFAS and in QLD DEHP (2016) has prepared a Policy doc for Environmental Management of Fire Fighting Foam