The NSW Environmental Protection Agency has released precautionary dietary advice for five fish species caught in the Shoalhaven River, after testing found elevated per and poly fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) levels in these species.
The advice is for high consumers of luderick (blackfish), sea mullet, sand whiting, dusky flathead and silver biddy from both up and downstream of the Shoalhaven River bridge.
The EPA has advised people to limit their personal intake of these fish.
The EPA is investigating the source of the PFAS contamination and will continue to update the local commercial and recreational fishing communities.
Per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals that include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).
As they have heat, water and stain repelling properties, PFAS have been widely used in a range of industrial and consumer products both in Australia and internationally, including in fire retardants, water proofing, food preparation, food packaging, furnishings, clothing and recreational equipment.
There is no consistent evidence of any human health effects related to PFAS exposure. However, based on the evidence from animal studies potential adverse health effects cannot be ruled out.
The NSW Government is therefore taking a precautionary approach to investigating PFAS and providing advice to the community.
The current advice is -
Commercial fishers can continue to sell fish they catch in the Shoalhaven River and the fishery remains open.
Recreational fishers who regularly catch and eat their own fish in the Shoalhaven River can continue to do so safely, but should follow the dietary advice.
The EPA has released tables which lists the number of serves of a single species that can be eaten each week to limit exposure to half of the health-based guideline value.
Recommended maximum weekly intake for species caught in areas upstream of the Nowra Bridge.
For children aged two to six years it is suggested they can have five serves of sand whiting, three serves of luderick or sea mullet, two serves of dusky flathead and a single serve of silver biddy per week.
For other age groups it is recommended six serves of ludrick, five of sea mullet, four of dusky flathead, three of silver biddy per week, while there is no recommended intake of sand whiting.
The recommended maximum weekly intake for species caught in areas downstream of the Nowra Bridge.
For children aged two to six it is recommended six serves of sea mullet, five of silver biddy and three of dusky flathead.
For other age groups there is no dietary advice required based on the reported PFOS and PFHxS concentrations. Concentrations were below the adopted trigger values in the samples analysed.
Adult serving size is 150 grams and children serving size is 75 grams.
Species specific information is for when a single species of fish is eaten per week. Eating multiple species would result in a greater exposure.
The EPA said consumption of offal in all species should be avoided.
For more information on the state-wide PFAS investigation program call the Environment Line on 131 555 or visit www.epa.nsw.gov.au/MediaInformation/pfasinvestigation.htm.