Common process will strengthen drinking water standards for unregulated chemicals
To further protect public health, reduce duplicative costs, increase efficiency and promote transparency of human health risk assessment action levels, CSA Group, NSF Intl., IAPMO R&T, UL and the Water Quality Assn. (WQA) will now use harmonized procedures to develop action levels for unregulated chemical contaminants originating from products in contact with drinking water. The harmonized process will be used by all five certification organizations immediately.
Products that contact drinking water, such as pipes and treatment chemicals, treatment devices, and faucets, can contribute chemicals to drinking water. In the late 1980s, NSF developed American National Drinking Water Standards for chemicals and products that come in contact with drinking water (NSF/ANSI 60: Drinking Water Treatment Chemicals — Health Effects and NSF/ANSI 61: Drinking Water System Components - Health Effects). Products certified to these standards do not contribute currently known chemical contaminants to drinking water at concentrations that could cause adverse health effects.
Chemicals for which action levels have not been established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Health Canada or other authoritative body must have action levels established according to guidelines offered in NSF/ANSI Standards 60 and 61 to help ensure that products from which the chemicals extract do not pose a health risk. Previously, action levels for unregulated chemicals derived by different certification bodies have varied, resulting in inconsistencies in the product certification process.
- The certifying organizations are working together to consolidate more than 650 previously established action levels and to harmonize the external peer review process for all future risk assessments through the assistance of the NSF Health Advisory Board (HAB), a group of experts from the regulatory community, academia and industry. The mission and charge of the NSF HAB is:
- Provide consensus peer review of documents supporting derivation of drinking water action levels;
- Review and accept defined methods for performing scientifically sound human health risk assessments for inclusion in NSF/ANSI 60 and 61; and
Provide expert peer review, advice and guidance to the participating certification agencies on human health effects issues.
“By coming together and committing to new processes, the organizations will work diligently toward helping companies continue to develop and manufacture safer products,” said Pauli Undesser, director of regulatory and technical affairs for WQA. “This increased transparency and efficiency will reduce costs and potential liability for companies by establishing a consensus on action levels across certifiers.”
“The harmonized list of action levels will also be available to help those outside the water treatment arena, such as those in academia and other industries, to better understand and react to chemicals in water,” said Clif McLellan, vice president of NSF Intl.’s Global Water Div. and former director of toxicology for NSF.