Heart health report
Field & Game Australia is still selling keys to the Heart Morass wetland near Sale but they are issued with a warning after the release of an Interim Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment (HHERA) in relation to PFAS contamination from RAAF Base East
An information sheet will be provided to all purchasers of Heart Morass keys.
The HHERA, commissioned as part of a Department of Defence investigation has identified potentially elevated risks associated with the home consumption of duck meat and duck liver recreationally hunted from Heart Morass even at low consumption rates (i.e. one serve of duck a month.).
The interim assessment is based on currently available data, and makes it clear that further investigation would assist with refining the findings of the current risk assessment (specifically where potentially elevated risks are identified), and the requirement for management measures.
We have considered the available advice and reports on the situation with the PFAS contamination at the property as a result from runoff from the RAAF Base next door.
PFAS are a group of chemicals that have been used extensively for non-stick cookware, fabric protection and, in the case of the RAAF, firefighting foams. Although much medical research has been undertaken to determine if PFAS levels in humans pose a long-term threat to health, no direct medical link has been established. However, with a view to caution, health authorities have set a maximum level of PFAS in human tissue which they recommend you should avoid going over. The HHERA identified potentially elevated risks associated with the home consumption of duck meat and duck liver recreationally hunted from the Heart Morass even at low consumption rates (i.e. one serve of duck/month), which will put you over this level.
Current advice for medical practitioners is that all Australians are expected to have detectable levels of PFAS in their blood due to background exposures. There is no established “normal” PFAS range for an individual in Australia or internationally and the presence of PFAS in blood is not predictive of health problems in individuals.
That being said, this is not a new issue at the RAAF Base and the Heart, although we have only just been made aware of it. Consequently, by the assumptions and calculations in the HHERA, those hunters who have been consuming ducks from the Heart for many years would be expected to have levels of PFAS in their tissue. Whether they do or do not, is not known. We also know that ducks fly considerable distances to feed and seek water and not consuming ducks from the Heart does not guarantee that the ducks you are consuming do not have PFAS in their tissue. PFAS levels were extremely high in ALL meat, skin and liver samples taken from ducks at Heart Morass. Levels detected in duck livers were 1000 times the trigger point for Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and breast and thigh meat 100 times higher and skin
levels were 150 times higher. Full details of the investigation including links to the HHERA report and health advice can be found at www.defence.gov. au/environment/pfas/eastsale
The following warning issued by the Environment Protection Agency Prior to the HHERA report is still current for the Heart Morass wetland: EPA has received results of Department of Defence (Commonwealth) testing for PFAS 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.
Hunting activities, other than eating the ducks, will not involve any risk of elevated PFAS levels. This applies to hunters wading (or falling) in the water as well as dogs swimming in it and drinking it.
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 Defence.
FGA is actively engaged with Defence and EPA on this important issue and we will continue to provide members with the latest information via www.fieldandgame. com.au FGA will continue to allow duck hunting at the Wet Trust property known as the Heart Morass and assumes that hunters will eat the ducks they bag. They need to do this in the knowledge that to do so may cause them to exceed the levels of PFAS recommended by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.