Drinking Water

Australians have been warned to use water filters, after experts found that hazardous chemicals known to cause cancer, such as PFOS, and PFOA, have tainted the tap water in several states and territories.

Since these "forever chemicals" have been connected to major health problems, including cancer, requests have been made for more stringent controls and extensive water testing to comply with new U.S. guidelines that state there is "no safe level of exposure," 9 News reported.

These worries were also echoed by Nicholas Chartres, a senior research fellow at the University of Sydney, who emphasized the necessity of rapid and extensive testing of Australia's water sources.

He pointed out that the U.S. limits for PFOS and PFOA are substantially tougher than those in Australia, where the allowable levels are up to 140 times higher. Chartres argued for a preventive approach to lower public exposure to these dangerous chemicals, pleading with the government to harmonize its rules with the most recent U.S. recommendations and to consider offering financial support for water filters.

Mariann Lloyd-Smith from the International Pollutant Elimination Network said Australians should use water filters to reduce their exposure, and the government should support these preventative steps.

"The makers of these kinds of chemicals have had to pay out many millions of dollars in the US to people who have been exposed and who have suffered cancer," she said. "Unbelievably though, our regulatory agencies here in Australia just dismiss all of this evidence, and say there's no clear evidence that they cause disease, which honestly is beyond belief."

NSW Premier Chris Minns responded to these issues by assuring the public that Sydney's drinking water quality was still "very good" despite recent concerns over PFAS contamination.

Minns said the government will consider the U.S. recommendations when evaluating the state's water regulations, in reaction to the US Environmental Protection Agency's conclusions that there is "no safe level of exposure" to PFOS and PFOA.

He expressed confidence in the safety of the city's drinking water supply, but he also stressed the need to implement best practices to guarantee Sydney Water maintains excellent quality.

Media reports said PFOS and PFOA were found in the drinking water of almost 1.8 million Australians in areas such as North Richmond's Sydney suburbs, Quakers Hill, Liverpool, Blacktown, Emu Plains and Campbelltown, apart from NSW regional centres of Newcastle, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Lithgow, Gundagai and Yass.