Apr 22, 2024 - News

"Forever chemicals" found in Dallas-Fort Worth water supply

Illustration of an exclamation point-shaped water drop falling from a faucet.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Dallas and Fort Worth are among several North Texas cities with more "forever chemicals" in their drinking water than the first-ever limits set by the U.S. government.

Why it matters: Exposure to harmful synthetic chemicals has been linked to serious health issues, including an increased risk of cancer.

  • In Texas, 49 public water utility systems have reported surpassing new limits to the chemicals, per a Texas Tribune analysis.

The big picture: This month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules limiting five synthetic compounds in a class of chemicals collectively known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

  • The rules require public water systems to monitor their supply for the chemicals. The utilities have five years to enact solutions to reduce PFAS.

Be smarter: PFAS have been prevalent since the 1940s, particularly in nonstick cookware and other fire-resistant and oil-repellent products.

State of play: Chemical manufacturer 3M will begin paying billions to public water systems this year as part of a settlement over drinking water contamination.

  • Dallas and Fort Worth were among the cities that objected last year to class-action settlements with 3M and DuPont, saying the agreements absolved the companies of wastewater and property cleanup.

Zoom in: Arlington, Cockrell Hill, Duncanville, Farmers Branch, Flower Mound, Grapevine, Haltom City, Irving, Lake Worth, Seagoville, Terrell and Weatherford are also among the Texas water systems reporting forever chemicals above the new standard.

What they're doing: Fort Worth is studying how to upgrade its water treatment facilities to remove forever chemicals.

  • The city council will likely vote this summer on adding activated carbon filtration systems to some water treatment plants with higher levels of forever chemicals, per the Fort Worth Report.

The bottom line: PFAS will never naturally degrade, meaning it's up to cities and water filtration systems to remove them from the drinking supply.


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