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The PFAS Health Study Component One: Oakey, Williamtown and Katherine Focus Groups Study

Banwell, Cathy; Housen, Tambri; Smurthwaite, Kayla; Trevenar, Susan; Walker, Liz; Todd, Katherine; Rosas, May; Kirk, Martyn

Description

This report details the findings from a series of focus group discussions held in Oakey (Qld), Williamtown (NSW), and Katherine (NT) between January and August 2018. The main aim of this study was to understand participants’ views and experiences of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination in their local area, with a focus on participants’ health concerns. Residents in these communities have been potentially exposed to PFAS chemicals. Potential exposure pathways varied between...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorBanwell, Cathy
dc.contributor.authorHousen, Tambri
dc.contributor.authorSmurthwaite, Kayla
dc.contributor.authorTrevenar, Susan
dc.contributor.authorWalker, Liz
dc.contributor.authorTodd, Katherine
dc.contributor.authorRosas, May
dc.contributor.authorKirk, Martyn
dc.date.accessioned2021-07-20T23:27:10Z
dc.date.available2021-07-20T23:27:10Z
dc.identifier.citationBanwell C, Housen T, Smurthwaite K, Trevenar S, Walker L, Todd K, Rosas M, Kirk M. The PFAS Health Study Component One: Oakey, Williamtown and Katherine Focus Groups Study. Canberra: The Australian National University. 2019.
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/241033
dc.description.abstractThis report details the findings from a series of focus group discussions held in Oakey (Qld), Williamtown (NSW), and Katherine (NT) between January and August 2018. The main aim of this study was to understand participants’ views and experiences of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination in their local area, with a focus on participants’ health concerns. Residents in these communities have been potentially exposed to PFAS chemicals. Potential exposure pathways varied between communities but include the use of contaminated water, including bore and river water on their properties, as well as town water. Less important potential exposure sources were eating locally produced foods and bush foods, through work activities, and in some instances through direct contact with firefighting foams. Four focus group discussions were held in each community, with 46, 36 and 29 participants attending in each of Williamtown, Oakey and Katherine respectively. One focus group discussion in each of the three communities was dedicated to Defence staff, contractors and family members. In Oakey, there were slightly more men than women, Williamtown focus groups contained roughly the same number of men and women, and in Katherine, there were predominately more women who attended the focus groups. Overall, the non-Aboriginal community groups contained slightly more people over the age of 50, more people who owned their own properties, and more who had lived in the area for longer than ten years. In Katherine, an additional three focus groups of 69 participants were held in local Aboriginal communities. The Aboriginal focus groups were larger, included more women who were often accompanied by children, and were held on community land. Participants voiced concerns related to their health and PFAS exposure. Children were considered more vulnerable due to their young age and exposure from growing up in affected areas. Participants were particularly concerned about the onset of cancers and the deterioration of existing health conditions. Another major concern for many participants was the stress and anxiety related to the duration of the PFAS contamination and uncertainty with respect to the long-term impact on health, specifically for their children. In addition to the above concerns, Aboriginal participants were also worried about the health of their children, contamination of river foods and bush tucker, and the overall impacts on country. Many participants were concerned about continuation of uncertainty and feeling unable to sell their property, being “stuck” in their community and lacking options to “move on”. Participants in the group discussions asked for greater transparency and consistency in the information they received. They discussed options that they thought would reduce their anxiety and provide information or pathways that could lead them out of their current situation soon. The findings from the focus group discussions have been used to contribute to the questionnaire design for a cross-sectional survey on health effects of PFAS. This report details the experiences and emotions of people who have been affected by the PFAS contamination.
dc.description.sponsorshipThe Australian Government Department of Health has commissioned the Australian National University to undertake the PFAS Health Study.
dc.format.extent62 Pages
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.publisherNational Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University
dc.rights© 2019 The Australian National University
dc.source.urihttps://rsph.anu.edu.au/files/FINAL%20PFAS%20Health%20Study%20Focus%20Groups%20Report%20February%202019_3_0.pdf
dc.titleThe PFAS Health Study Component One: Oakey, Williamtown and Katherine Focus Groups Study
dc.typeReport (Commissioned)
dc.date.issued2019-02
local.publisher.urlhttps://rsph.anu.edu.au
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationBanwell, Cathy, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANU
local.contributor.affiliationHousen, Tambri, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANU
local.contributor.affiliationSmurthwaite, Kayla, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANU
local.contributor.affiliationTrevenar, Susan, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANU
local.contributor.affiliationWalker, Liz, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANU
local.contributor.affiliationTodd, Katherine, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANU
local.contributor.affiliationRosas, May, Ngaigu-Mulu Aboriginal Corporation
local.contributor.affiliationKirk, Martyn, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANU
dcterms.accessRightsOpen Access
CollectionsANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH)
ANU Research Publications

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