Duck hunters may be putting their health at risk by eating wild ducks taken from Victoria’s wetlands. Over the last three years, the EPA has investigated PFAS (Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl substances) in Victoria’s waterfowl, sediment, soil, and water. It has concluded that PFAS are widespread. It recommends that no birds at all should be taken from some wetlands, and that hunters should be particularly cautious about eating ducks from wetlands near those with current health advisories.
PFAS have been used since the 1950s in household products like scotchgard and Teflon pans, and in firefighting foam. These “forever chemicals “do not break down in the environment, and they have been linked to cancer in people. Their presence in the soil delayed construction on the West Gate Tunnel. Health concerns related to PFAS closed down the Fiskville CFA training College in 2015. In early March this year the Federal Court ruled that PFAS can potentially cause harmful effects in people including kidney and testicular cancer. This finding resulted in a $212 million settlement for the towns fighting the Government for toxic foam compensation. There is no way to isolate cases of PFAS in wild ducks to specific wetlands in Victoria because ducks are migratory. PFAS are potentially a serious health risk for the hunters who kill and eat wild ducks in this State.