Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, has welcomed today’s announcement by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, of the voluntary blood testing programme in Katherine being available from 17 March 2018.
“The Australian Government will fund a single PFAS blood test for those people who live or work, or have lived or worked, in the RAAF Base Tindal Investigation Area. The voluntary blood testing programme will be available from 17 March 2018 until 30 April 2019,” Senator Scullion said.
“The Department of Health has contracted Sonic Healthcare, which trades under the name Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology in the NT, to provide pathology services for the voluntary blood testing programme.
“As with any other blood test, eligible individuals need to visit a GP to seek a blood test.
“The Department of Health will also meet with local GPs and health professionals in Katherine during this week to provide further information on these services and PFAS.
“Advertising will appear in local and national media (print and radio) from 18-31 March 2018 to promote the availability of the services.
“Representatives from the Department of Health will attend community shopfronts being hosted by the Department of Defence in Katherine in late March to promote the services and to provide the community with the opportunity to ask questions about the services or the potential health effects associated with exposure to PFAS.
“It is important to note at present there is insufficient evidence for a medical practitioner to be able to tell a person whether their blood level will make them sick now or later in life, or if any current health problems are related to the PFAS levels found in their blood. That is, PFAS blood tests currently have no diagnostic or prognostic value and cannot be used to guide clinical management.
“A blood test can measure the level of PFAS in a person’s blood and can tell a person how their blood levels compare with the levels seen in the general Australian population. All Australians are expected to have detectable levels of PFAS in their blood. A broad range of levels would be expected in all communities due to background exposures. There is no specific PFAS level that is considered to be “normal” or “abnormal” either in Australia or overseas.
“The Australian Government has funded the NT PHN to commission dedicated face to face mental health and counselling services and community wellness programmes to support the Katherine community. These services will complement existing services available in Katherine. People who need support should discuss this with their GP, who can refer them to the appropriate mental health and counselling services.
“As the Department of Health has said throughout, there is currently no consistent evidence that exposure to PFOS and PFOA causes adverse human health effects.”
More information for individuals seeking a blood test, as well as for GPs, is available at health.gov.au/pfas