Sue Walker left bewildered after Fullerton Cove woman tests positive for PFAS at three times national average.

Sue Walker, right, at flooded land in Fullerton Cove with activists Justin Hamilton and Lindsay Clout
Sue Walker, right, at flooded land in Fullerton Cove with activists Justin Hamilton and Lindsay Clout

A woman has discovered toxic chemicals in her bloodstream at three times the national average - despite living 40 metres outside the boundary of the Williamtown 'red zone'. 

Sue Walker of Fullerton Cove has been left bewildered and upset by the test results, which also show she has accumulated firefighting chemicals in her blood at more than double the rate of her husband, Stephen. 

The couple believe that may be because Ms Walker tends to and mows their acreage, while Mr Walker works as a train driver. 

"My GP indicated to me that whilst ever I stay here, I will always have elevated levels and they will rise because I'm continually exposed to the contaminant," she said. "It's in our best interests to move and even then it will take years for these contaminants to leave my system." 

Ms Walker was tested for a family of perfluoroalkyl chemicals known as PFAS that have polluted land around the RAAF base. 

Her combined level was 53.1 ng/ml. In 2011, the Australian adult average was 17 ng/ml but background levels in the population are believed to be dropping. 

Mr Walker had a reading of 20.4 ng/ml, even though men usually show up higher levels than women. 

Ms Walker is at a loss to explain her levels when she has been following government precautions and the tank water she drinks from has tested negative for the contamination. Her GP has now offered her full health screening.

“I’ve always questioned the airborne transmission...but they just fob you off,” she said. "I question their investigation area and the mapping of it. Why is it still the same when they've got positive readings down the road from me and I've got elevated levels?”

A NSW Health spokesperson downplayed the difference in the couple’s results, saying it was not possible to determine when or how exposure occurred.  

“Every person stores and excretes PFAS differently,” she said. “This means that the two people who have had the same level of exposure may produce very different blood test results.” 

The couple are now spending as much time as possible away from their home of 16 years. Ms Walker is also desperate to have the property hooked up to town water for “peace of mind”. 

But beyond all else, they want to leave. They are relying on a class action to give them the financial means to do so. 

“It is our only avenue,” Ms Walker said. “They’ve destroyed our life.” 


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