UQ Study on PFASs in Australian Firefighters


The University of Queensland has carried out a study to evaluate PFASs present in the blood serum of 799 Airservices Australia’s current and former staff.

The aims of the study were:

  • To measure the participants’ PFAS blood concentration levels and understand how these levels were linked to ‘work history’.
  • To determine how PFAS blood levels change over time and compare these levels and changes to those in the general population.
  • To determine whether the PFAS blood levels were associated with any changes in other biochemical measures of health such as cholesterol, liver and kidney tests.

The study found:

  • Blood serum levels of 40 PFAS were recorded (incl. PFHxA, PFBA, 10:2, 8:2, 6:2 and 4:2 FTS), most of which were not detected, or in less than 15% of participants, so justified no further study.
  • Only 6 PFAS were found in 90% of participant’s serum (studied closely) ie. PFOA, PFNA, PFDA, PFHxS, PFHpS & PFOS - all legacy long-chain C8PFAS, already restricted from use and no longer manufactured. The last 3 strongly correlated with pre-2005 Lightwater AFFF use. 3 other PFAS were found at lower levels (PFUnDA 30%; PFHpA 29% and PFBS 16% participant’s serum).
  • Serum concentration comparisons for these 130 participants between 2013 and 2019 showed average decreases of 58% PFOA, 42% PFHxS, 45% PFHpS and 49% PFOS.


  • “Overall, the associations that were found were relatively small and did not result in an increased risk of out-of-range (potentially abnormal) values across the serum PFAA concentrations in this study.”
  • The study confirmed no significant associations over time in chloresterol (HDL, LDL) or urate with PFAS concentrations, also observing "PFOA concentrations [was] similar to general population, indicating no increased exposure through occupational activities to this chemical."
  • Participants starting work pre-2005 were found to have higher PFOS, PFHxS and PFHpS levels than Australia’s population generally - as expected. Those starting post-2005 had concentrations similar to the general population.

To read this study online, please click or tap here.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Our thanks to Mike Willson for his help with this article.