The NSW Government says it cannot ban toxic PFAS chemicals.

The suite of chemicals known as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used in fire-fighting foam have been linked to cancer and other diseases and illnesses.

They have been banned in two states amid increasing concerns about their health effects, but Australia is one of only a handful of countries that have not banned them outright.

NSW Health says there is “no consistent evidence” that PFAS exposure affects health.

“Studies on PFAS workers have looked for effects on cholesterol levels, male hormones, heart disease, liver changes and other effects, including cancer,” NSW Health said.

“These studies have not consistently shown that PFAS exposure is linked to health problems.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency says the chemicals “can cause can cause immune dysfunction, hormonal interference and certain types of cancer”.

But when asked about it this week, NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said “this government cannot ban PFAS”.

“The responsibility for that lies directly at the feet of the Federal Government and the things it has done," Ms Upton said.

The Environment Minister said the state government is doing a lot to help, despite PFAS being a federal issue.

“In those areas where PFAS substances have been unearthed as a potential contaminant of our environment, we have done some important work,” she said.