Guidelines slammed after Williamtown resident's PFOS levels double in three months

ANXIOUS: Kim Smith and her husband Gavin at their property in Salt Ash. Levels of PFOS in Gavin's blood have doubled in three months. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
ANXIOUS: Kim Smith and her husband Gavin at their property in Salt Ash. Levels of PFOS in Gavin's blood have doubled in three months. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Defence guidelines for protecting Williamtown residents from firefighting contamination have been ridiculed as a “work of fiction”, after a fly-in fly-out worker saw levels of the chemicals in his blood double within three months of being in the ‘red zone’.

Gavin Smith lives on a property at Salt Ash with his wife Kim but mostly works abroad. He had his blood tested for the chemical perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) last November, just before he flew out for a long stint overseas. 

He returned home in March and had his blood tested in May.

“I said ‘let’s get your bloods done again to see if there’s been any change before you go to Canada’. And they were double,” Ms Smith said. 

A human health risk assessment prepared by Defence earlier this year looked at routes of human exposure to toxic perfluorinated chemicals from the RAAF base.  It found ingesting contaminated water, eggs, milk or livestock were the only pathways of concern.

Ms Smith said the fact that her husband had followed those guidelines and still been exposed showed the Defence report was a “load of rubbish”. 

“He's always outside in the yards, breathing in the dust,” she said.  

At a media briefing, Defence project director for the Human Health Risk Assessment Michael Jones admitted he was not aware of what studies the report relied on to say that dust exposure was not a concern but insisted he was “confident” in the report’s conclusions.