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) will address PFAS in upcoming regulations. NTMWD is closely following the development of these regulations, which focus on the potential health effects from long-term exposure to PFAS.
  • In the communities served by NTMWD, the levels of PFAS in most testing results have been below the proposed regulatory limits for drinking water. More testing and analysis will be required to understand the potential presence and impact of PFAS in our service area.
  • NTMWD is evaluating technology and strategies that, if needed, could minimize the levels of any potential PFAS in our systems and ensure compliance with new EPA regulations.

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 are expected to be published in 2024. The EPA has indicated that it is considering additional regulations in the future to address PFAS in solid waste and wastewater systems.

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 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 municipal water systems in our service area. PFAS have been detected in North Texas, but the levels of PFAS in most testing results have been below the proposed regulatory limits for drinking water. Additional testing and analysis will be required to understand the potential presence and impact of PFAS in our service area.

What is NTMWD doing about PFAS?

This is a rapidly evolving situation, and NTMWD is closely following the development of EPA regulations to inform our approach. We’re also monitoring federal laboratory testing for PFAS conducted through the EPA’s (UCMR 5) testing program. We plan to perform additional testing in 2024 to evaluate the potential presence and sources of PFAS in our water, wastewater, and solid waste systems.

As we monitor test results, we’re evaluating new water treatment technology and strategies that, if needed, could minimize the levels of PFAS in our water and ensure compliance with new EPA regulations. Public health is our top priority, and we will continue to ensure our water quality meets or exceeds federal and state drinking water standards.

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 between $772 million and $1.2 billion, 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. Once final regulations are established, NTMWD must meet or exceed those minimum regulatory standards.

There are thousands of PFAS chemicals. Which chemicals will 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 EPA has also begun focusing 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. More information on PFAS compounds and their uses can be found on the EPA’s website.

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.