Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): Quick Facts

  • NTMWD is dedicated to the protection of public health and safety through the essential services we provide to more than 2.2 million North Texans. We use advanced, multi-step water treatment technologies and continue to meet or exceed all state and federal drinking water standards.
  • Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), also referred to as “forever chemicals,” are chemicals present in numerous everyday household items like clothing, food packaging, and cookware. Due to their widespread use and persistence, PFAS have been detected in the air, soil, and water throughout the U.S., including in North Texas.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the new National Drinking Water Priority Regulations. NTMWD has been closely following the development of these regulations, which focus on the potential health effects of long-term exposure to PFAS.
  • In the communities served by NTMWD, most testing results have shown levels of PFAS below the new regulatory limits for drinking water, though a few tests have shown results above those limits. More testing and analysis will be required to understand the potential presence and impact of PFAS in our service area.
  • NTMWD is conducting a holistic evaluation of our water, wastewater, and solid waste systems to guide decisions and investments for PFAS management and regulatory compliance within the next five to 10 years.

PFAS Frequently Asked Questions

What are PFAS?

PFAS are widely used, long-lasting chemicals that break down slowly over time. There are thousands of PFAS compounds that are used in many different consumer, commercial, and industrial products. Because of their widespread use, PFAS have been found in the environment throughout the world.

PFAS are commonly found in every American household and in products as diverse as nonstick cookware, stain-resistant furniture and carpets, wrinkle-free and water-repellant clothing, cosmetics, lubricants, paint, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, and many other everyday products. The EPA indicates that most people are exposed to these chemicals through consumer products, while some are also exposed to PFAS in air, soil, and water.

What is the EPA doing about PFAS?

Since 2013, the EPA has required public water systems that serve over 10,000 people, as well as certain randomly selected smaller public water systems, to test for PFAS through the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) program.

In 2021, the EPA released a strategic roadmap for addressing PFAS. The roadmap includes timelines and specific actions related to PFAS research, restrictions, and remediation. One key component of this roadmap is the development of regulatory drinking water standards for PFAS.

The EPA released draft criteria for PFAS drinking water standards on March 14, 2023. Final drinking water regulations were announced on April 10, 2024 which include Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG) as well as enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level (MCLs). The EPA has indicated that it is considering additional regulations in the future to address PFAS in solid waste and wastewater systems.

The following table depicts the recently approved enforceable levels for six PFAS, which include individual MCLs for five (5) PFAS compounds and a Hazard Index MCL for mixtures of four (4) PFAS compounds. With these new regulations, public water systems will be required to monitor for these PFAS compounds in drinking water and take steps to ensure average concentrations of these PFAS in drinking water remain below these MCLs.

Compound MGLG MCL (enforceable level)
PFOA Zero 4.0 parts per trillion (ppt)
PFOS Zero 4.0 ppt
PFHxS 10 ppt 10 ppt
PFNA 10 ppt 10 ppt
HFPO-DA (aka GenX chemicals) 10 ppt 10 ppt
Mixtures containing two or more of
PFHxS, PFNA, HFPO-DA, and PFBS
1 (unitless)
Hazard Index
1 (unitless)
Hazard Index

Are PFAS present in our water supply in the North Texas region?

According to the United States Geological Survey, at least 45 percent of the nation’s tap water is estimated to have one or more types of PFAS. In North Texas, PFAS have been detected in some municipal water systems through the EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) testing program.

At NTMWD, we’re monitoring the UCMR 5 testing results from the municipal water systems we serve. While the levels of PFAS in most testing results have been below the proposed regulatory limits for drinking water, a few UCMR 5 test results in our service area have shown levels of PFAS slightly above the proposed limits. Additional testing and analysis will be required to understand the potential presence and impact of PFAS in our service area.

Why do you need more testing data?

The EPA’s regulations focus on the potential health effects from long-term exposure to PFAS. Compliance with the drinking water standards will be based on running annual averages of test results, not single test results. Single test results can be outliers.

In addition, testing for PFAS is a complex process. PFAS sampling tests require detection at minute levels (parts per trillion) compared to other water quality tests (parts per million or billion). The testing process is incredibly sensitive and requires stringent protocols to avoid sample contamination.

Weather conditions may also play a role in the concentration of PFAS in our environment. For example, during a drought, when less water moves through our watersheds, the concentration of PFAS might increase. Long-term testing trends will be vital in understanding the potential presence and impact of PFAS in our service area.

What is NTMWD doing about PFAS?

Public health is our top priority, and we will continue to ensure our water quality meets or exceeds federal and state drinking water standards. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and NTMWD has been closely following the development of EPA regulations and UCMR 5 testing to inform our approach. Initial UCMR 5 data indicate action may be required at our Tawakoni Water Treatment Plant. This small plant treats raw water from Lake Tawakoni and serves the southern portion of our water system.

As part of our path forward to ensure regulatory compliance, we are conducting a holistic evaluation of our water, wastewater, and solid waste systems to guide decisions and investments for PFAS management and regulatory compliance within the next five to 10 years.

How much could removing PFAS from our water systems cost?

We’re still evaluating whether changes to our water treatment process will be needed to ensure NTMWD’s compliance with EPA’s upcoming PFAS drinking water standards. As part of our planning process, we’re assessing potential costs associated with new treatment technologies and strategies that have been shown to be effective in removing different types of PFAS from drinking water. Those technologies can be expensive and difficult to implement on a large scale.

Some cost estimates for PFAS removal exist at a national level, but they vary greatly. The EPA estimates total annual costs for removing PFAS from the nation’s water supply could be approximately $1.5 billion per year, while the American Water Works Association estimates annual operating costs could exceed $3.8 billion.

Where may I see testing data on the current levels of PFAS in NTMWD’s water system?

NTWMD is working closely with communities in our service area as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s UCMR5 testing program. Sample collection under UCMR 5 is being conducted from January 2023 through December 2025. The EPA posts data results quarterly on its website, and data for some cities in NTMWD’s service area have already been released.

The EPA defines timing requirements for communities participating in the UCMR 5 program. Testing results from your community may be forthcoming as part of the UCMR 5 testing that’s ongoing through 2025, so please continue to monitor the EPA’s website for updates.

Who establishes the acceptable level of PFAS in NTMWD’s systems?

The EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are responsible for establishing health- and science-based regulations for water quality, wastewater, and solid waste, and NTMWD relies on those agencies to provide guidance of acceptable levels of PFAS and other chemicals in our systems. With the release of the final regulations, NTMWD must meet or exceed those minimum regulatory standards within the given timeframes established by the EPA.

There are thousands of PFAS chemicals. Which chemicals do the new drinking water regulations focus on?

The two types of PFAS 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 resistance to degradation.

The final drinking water regulations announced on April 10, 2024 include individual MCLs for five (5) PFAS compounds (PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA and HFOP-DA) and a Hazard Index MCL for mixtures of four (4) PFAS compounds (PFHxS, PFNA, HFPO-DA, and PFBS). Some of these chemicals are considered to be replacements for PFOA and PFOS in manufacturing processes. More information on PFAS compounds and their uses can be found on the EPA’s .

Do you have additional questions about PFAS? Contact us.

For additional questions please contact the NTMWD Communications Department at 972-442-5405 or publicrelations.info@ntmwd.com.