Research into firefighting foam contamination risk begins
Landmark research is beginning to rank the level of risk that poorly-understood contaminants pose, including the toxic and pervasive firefighting foam chemicals now turning up in New Zealand’s groundwater.
But New Zealand only introduced a health advisory maximum acceptable level for the chemicals in drinking water in April this year.
New Zealand had been slow to react to the foam chemicals threat, he said.
But it was hard to set priorities when there were so many emerging chemical threats and, in this country at least, so little capacity to monitor them.
Then the measuring will start, to winnow through a list with a thousand-plus names of it of potentially villainous, but so far largely unmonitored, chemicals.
"What’s important is that we can rapidly identify those families [of chemicals] that are more at risk so that we can better manage it to reduce the overall risk."
New Zealand so far had prioritised its very limited research and action resources on 1080 and vertebrate pesticides, Dr Tremblay said.
"We go after the most at-risk range of chemicals."
However, he conceded that public trust in those setting the research priorities, such as at the Ministry of Health, had been undermined by the Havelock North water contamination inquiry which found the management of drinking water standards was inept.
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