Results of fish testing at the Daly River released

The Northern Territory Government has released the results of testing of fish from the Daly River for per- and poly-fluoroalkylated substances (PFAS).

The test results were sent to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to analyse 12 fish samples from the Daly River in response to concerns that fish may migrate downstream from the Katherine investigative area. This initial analysis is based on a small number of samples.

FSANZ has reviewed results and analysed this data against the Health Based Guidance Values (HBGVs), results indicate that under normal patterns of consumption the HBGV is unlikely to be exceeded for overall consumption of a range of fish species over time.

The report found that consumption of barramundi, catfish and mullet species caught in the Daly River are unlikely to present a public health and safety concern.

Fish and other aquatic species are highly nutritious foods and a source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and should be eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet. However overconsumption of fish and other seafood is not recommended because it may lead to potentially higher intake of harmful substances such as mercury.

These PFAS test results do not alter the recommended maximum fish consumption for a healthy diet (an average of three, 150 gram serves of these foods per week for an adult and two serves for an expectant or pregnant woman or a child). People are reminded to adhere to the fish consumption guidelines published by FSANZ.

The FSANZ Comparison of Daly River fish samples with PFAS trigger levels report is available from the NT Environment Protection Authority website PDF (127.9 KB).

As part of its detailed environmental evaluation, the Australian Defence Department will ensure sufficient testing is conducted to provide Katherine residents with a complete picture of potential impacts on aquatic life downstream from the PFAS contamination at Tindal. These results will be included in the final Human Health Risk Assessment report, which is expected to be released in April 2018.