'Don't want to cause undue panic' – David Parker says testing has begun on toxic foam used by NZ Defence Force

Environment Minister David Parker says Government officials are investigating the use of toxic foam by New Zealand Defence Force fire fighters.

There are fears the foam could have contaminated ground water near Ohakea and Woodbourne airbases.

It follows a scandal in Australia over the use of the suppressant which contained per and poly-fluoroalkyls, or Pfas.

The Defence Force there is facing two class action suits from residents in New South Wales and Queensland. Studies in the US have linked Pfas to cancer.

Environment Minister David Parker faced questions about the issue at Parliament this afternoon.

"Officials from the Department of Health have been knocking on doors today of the approximately 60 households who may be drawing water from bores which need to be tested to see if there are any levels of contaminants," he said.

Mr Parker admitted the previous government had known of the issue and not made it public, but he wouldn't be drawn on how long they had known.

He says he was only made aware of the toxic foam after September's general election.

"Testing is only starting now, I don't want to overstate the health risk here and cause undue panic, I just want to investigate and see if there's a problem," Mr Parker said.

The substances are no longer imported or imported here and neither the Defence Force or fire service "routinely" use the foam.

But officials are talking to other agencies that may use the foams.

There are fears the foam could have contaminated ground-water near Ohakea and Woodbourne airbases. Source: 1 NEWS