The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) is dedicated to the protection of public health and safety through the essential services we provide to more than two million North Texans.
As part of our commitment to those we serve and the environment, we are providing the following information about Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), an emerging contaminant being addressed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
NTMWD relies on the agencies who regulate drinking water, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and EPA, for the latest science and is closely monitoring new information from these agencies relating to PFAS. The information below is intended to provide general information to the public about current understanding of PFAS and efforts by these regulatory agencies. For more detailed information about EPA and TCEQ efforts to assess potential health effects and develop drinking water standards for PFAS please refer to the additional resources and links provided.
What are PFAS?
PFAS are widely used, long lasting chemicals which break down very slowly over time. Because of their widespread use, PFAS have been found in the environment throughout the world. There are thousands of PFAS compounds that are used in many different consumer, commercial and industrial products, such as manufacturing of carpets, clothing, fabrics, and food packaging. The EPA indicates that most people are exposed to these chemicals through consumer products but in some places PFAS have also been detected in the air, soil and water.
Two PFAS constituents of particular interest to the EPA are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). The EPA indicates that most uses of PFOA and PFOS were voluntarily phased out by U.S. manufacturers in the mid-2000s. However, these compounds can remain in the environment for many years due to their persistence and inability to degrade. Recent EPA information has also focused on perfluorobutane sulfonic acid and its potassium salt (PFBS) and hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid and its ammonium salt (GenX chemicals). PFBS and GenX chemicals are considered to be replacements for PFOA and PFOS in manufacturing processes, respectively. More information on PFAS compounds and their use can be found on EPA’s website.
EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap
In 2021 the EPA released a strategic roadmap for addressing PFAS compounds. The roadmap includes timelines and specific actions related to PFAS research, restriction and remediation. One key component of this roadmap is the development of regulatory drinking water standards for PFAS.
The EPA has does not yet have a primary drinking water standard for PFAS compounds. The EPA has released interim health advisory information for some PFAS compounds but is still working to establish regulatory limits for PFAS compounds in drinking water. The EPA is expected to release draft criteria for PFAS drinking water standards by the end of 2022. It will take some time for those regulatory limits to be finalized and adopted following the issuance of draft criteria.
More information on EPA’s strategic roadmap for PFAS is available on their website here: https://www.epa.gov/pfas
Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR)
A key component of EPA’s efforts to address PFAS compounds is the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR). The EPA uses the UCMR program to collect data for contaminants that may be present in drinking water and do not have regulatory limits. Through the UCMR program, EPA collects data on unregulated contaminants every 5 years and uses that information to inform regulatory and other risk management decisions for drinking water.
Data for UCMR 3 was collected between 2013-2015 and included monitoring for six PFAS compounds. In the upcoming UCMR 5, monitoring for 29 different PFAS compounds will be conducted between 2023-2025. PFAS sampling data (i.e. occurrence data) from UCMR 3 is currently available on the EPA website and EPA anticipates posting the first set of preliminary UCMR 5 results in mid-2023.
More information about UCMR, including occurrence data, is available on the EPA website here: https://www.epa.gov/dwucmr
What is NTMWD doing about PFAS?
NTMWD uses advanced, multi-step water treatment technologies and continues to meet or exceed all state and federal drinking water standards. In anticipation of EPA developing drinking water standards for PFAS, the NTMWD is also taking steps to better understand and prepare for future regulation of these compounds. Our current areas of focus are:
- Closely monitoring new research and information from public health authorities, EPA and TCEQ regarding PFAS
- Understanding established and emerging strategies for addressing PFAS
- Preparing to respond to future drinking water standards established by EPA for PFAS
For additional questions please contact the NTMWD Communications Department at 972-442-5405 or email@example.com .