VIC EPA Recommendations for Incoming Water Quality Guidelines for Aquatic Ecosystem Protection
In August 2016 the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (VIC EPA) released an information bulletin which outlines the proposed Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (ANZECC) for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and provides recommendations for the immediate adoption of these values.
It is noted that the ANZECC water quality guidelines are currently under review and an updated version is expected to be finalised and released mid-2017. Therefore, the ANZECC guidelines for PFOS and PFOA, as published in the VIC EPA information bulletin, are in draft format and may be subject to change before the ANZECC document is release in 2017.
PFOS and PFOA are part of a class of man-made compounds known as per and poly-fluoroalkyl substance (PFAS). These substances along with a range of other PFAS compounds have been detected at a number of industrial sites across Australia (e.g. fire training facilities, airports (including RAAF bases), waste water treatment facilities (in biosolids), landfills and petroleum storage and refining facilities) which has led the VIC EPA to ‘fast track’ the PFOS and PFOA ANZECC water quality criteria release.
It is noted in the VIC EPA bulletin that PFOS and PFOA have been shown to bioaccumulate and biomagnify in wildlife and therefore the 99% species protection value should be adopted. However, the 99% species protection value for PFOS is less than the current laboratory limit of reporting (LOR) (0.001 µg/L). The VIC EPA therefore recommend the use of the laboratory LOR of 0.001 µg/L as a practical standard for PFOS in ‘slightly to moderately disturbed systems’ and ‘high conservation value systems’ until laboratory procedures are able to report to lower concentrations. The 90% species protection level should be applied to ‘highly disturbed systems’.
The following table provides a summary of the draft guidelines.
Table 1: Incoming draft ANZECC standards for the protection of aquatic ecosystems (freshwater)