Tackling Certification

Product certification is certainly a detail-oriented process, but the Water Quality Association (WQA) product certification coordinators make it as simple as possible. Whether you have a single product requiring certification or would like a multitude of product lines certified, the same easy process will be used.

Application Process

The process begins with the submission of required documentation. The following documents are needed to begin the process: application, wetted parts list/exploded diagram or formulation information, and a WQA product data sheet. The application is a legal document that provides WQA assurance that your company will abide by the Gold Seal policies for the products for which you are requesting certification.

The wetted parts list (formulation information) provides WQA with a complete list of all the individual components that come into contact with drinking water. Most manufacturers already have all of this information, so it is just a matter of transferring it into an Excel document. The product data sheet provides WQA with the pertinent information it needs in order to complete the certification. For example, anticipated product capacities, flow rates and requested contaminant reduction claims would be included in this document. With these three documents, WQA has everything it needs to provide a quote for the project and an anticipated time frame for completion.

Testing

The drinking water treatment unit (DWTU) standards contain three separate sections for testing requirements. The DWTU standards cover products such as water softeners, RO systems, and all types of filters, UV systems and distillers. The testing sections include: materials safety, structural integrity and performance. This part is effortless because all of the work is done by WQA, allowing you to carry on with everyday responsibilities while waiting for the results.

Materials safety. Each DWTU must be evaluated to ensure that the materials used are not leaching any harmful compounds into the drinking water. A complete system extraction test is performed, or if each individual component has undergone testing itself, all the test data is accumulated, and a cumulative affects comparison is completed to ensure that no harmful chemicals are above the required maximum contaminant levels when the tests are combined.

Structural integrity. Each system must meet anticipated lifetime pressure requirements, including what may happen in the event of water hammer or a surge of pressure.

Performance. A minimum performance claim must be made for each different product type. Each type, however, also has the option to make additional contaminant reduction claims as specified by the manufacturer.

The drinking water additive and component (DWA) standards (NSF/ANSI 60 and 61) have only one section for testing. The DWA standards cover products such as chemicals, process media, mechanical plumbing devices, pipes and related products, coatings and barrier materials, etc. The testing portion includes the materials safety section. Though the parameters of the testing vary greatly from the DWTU materials protocols, the end result is the same. WQA will ensure the specific additive or component does not impart any harmful contaminants into the drinking water.

Certainly, WQA recognizes it is almost impossible to require testing on each and every unit manufactured. For those manufacturers that produce multiple products in a family (products that typically vary primarily in product size or amount of performance reduction media), WQA offers an easy option—product bracketing is often used for these types of units. Rather than undergoing the rigorous testing on each product, WQA completes a thorough review of each product and documents the technical rationale supporting the certification without physical test data. These types of certifications save both time and money.

Furthermore, WQA also accepts test data from a multitude of testing laboratories around the world. If you have already had testing completed or would simply like to have multiple certifications, the process is quick and inexpensive.

Plant Inspections

Many people become nervous when they are informed that an audit must be performed on their facility. In actuality, the audits may be the easiest part of the certification process. While the testing and/or technical justifications are being performed, a representative of the WQA audit team will visit your manufacturing plant or plants. The onsite inspection will evaluate your quality control procedures. Follow-up audits will be conducted each calendar year to review the certified product’s manufacturing process, Gold Seal Mark usage and continued quality control procedure inspection. If you are required to make any changes, the audit team is well trained to provide helpful information.

Product Literature

Each standard has a specific set of requirements for the product literature. It is the responsibility of the WQA coordinator to review the literature and request any changes to meet all requirements. When the review is completed, you will receive copies of your literature including any specific changes you are required to make. All you have to do is make the changes and you are done. The process is simple if the requested changes are made the first time around.

Certification

At this point, all the necessary steps are completed, and your products are ready for official certification and listing. All pertinent information is added to a database that is connected live to the Gold Seal website (www.wqa.org). Once you receive your final certificates, you have completed the certification process.

Tina Fischer, CWS-IV, is product certification supervisor for the Water Quality Association. She can be reached at 630.505.0160, or by e-mail at tfischer@mail.wqa.org.

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