Aug 29, 2014

NSF Develops Standard to Address Pharmaceuticals, Other Contaminants in Drinking Water

NSF/ANSI 401: Drinking Water Treatment Units - Emerging Compounds/Incidental Contaminants addresses the ability of a water treatment device to remove up to 15 contaminants from drinking water

NSF/ANSI 401: Drinking Water Treatment Units Emerging Compounds

NSF Intl. has developed the first American National Standard that validates the effectiveness of water treatment devices that are designed to reduce trace levels of emerging contaminants in drinking water. The standard, named NSF/ANSI 401: Drinking Water Treatment Units - Emerging Compounds/Incidental Contaminants, addresses the ability of a water treatment device to remove up to 15 contaminants from drinking water. Types of contaminants include some pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medications, herbicides, pesticides and chemicals used in manufacturing, such as bisphenol A (BPA).

NSF has certified 56 products to NSF/ANSI 401 at varying levels, providing home water treatment options to consumers concerned about these contaminants. The first manufacturers to achieve NSF/ANSI 401 certification for one or more of their water treatment devices include 3M Purification Inc., Access Business Group LLC, Amway China Co., Aquasana Inc., Electrolux Home Products, Everpure LLC, General Electric Co., Kaz USA Inc., Kemflo/Filbur, and Whirlpool Corp. To view the list of all 56 certified products, visit NSF’s online listings.

While not a public health issue, the contaminants covered in NSF/ANSI 401 have been detected in drinking water supplies at trace levels and can affect some consumers’ perception of drinking water quality. An independent survey conducted on behalf of NSF indicated that 63% of Americans are concerned about pharmaceuticals and other contaminants in their drinking water.

The new standard sets requirements for water treatment and filtration devices that reduce up to 15 individual contaminants, which have been identified in published studies as occurring in drinking water.

Products covered in the standard include several types of point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry (POE) products such as faucet-mount, under-sink, countertop, plumbed-in, refrigerator, pour-through, mouth drawn and hand squeezed sports bottle-type filtration systems; POU reverse osmosis systems; and traditional filtration systems.

Earning certification to NSF/ANSI 401 demonstrates that the product has been independently tested and verified to reduce specific contaminants. Each product also was evaluated to verify compliance with material, design and construction, performance, product literature and labeling requirements.

NSF led the development of the American National Standards for all materials and products that treat or come in contact with drinking water. In 1990, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency replaced its own drinking water product advisory program with these NSF standards. Today, all major plumbing codes require certification to NSF standards for pipe and plumbing components in commercial and residential buildings. 

Members of NSF’s Joint Committee on Drinking Water Treatment and the NSF Task Group on Endocrine Disrupting Compounds and Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products developed the standard in cooperation with other industry, academic and regulatory experts. This included extensive review of scientifically published literature about these compounds and their occurrence and detection in drinking water. The standard was developed in accordance with the requirements set forth by the American National Standards Institute, a private, nonprofit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. This process ensures balanced input from public health/regulatory officials, users/consumer representatives and industry representatives.