NSF International Global Water Division weighs in with an update

Manufacturers, regulators and consumers look to NSF International for the development of public health standards and certification programs. Such standards help protect the global environment and its citizens access to healthy food, water and other key resources.

Founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation, the organization changed its name to NSF International in 1990 after expanded its services beyond sanitation and into global markets. As an independent, accredited organization, NSF international develops standards, and tests and certifies products and systems, providing audits, as well as education and risk management solutions for public health.

The organization is made up of various divisions, including Food Safety, Health Sciences, Consumer Products, Sustainability, and Global Water. Dave Purkiss, general manager of the Municipal Water Products Programs and NSF International Global Water Division, took the time to share what the organization has witnessed since the federal lead free went into effect in 2014.

Q: How do you think enforcement of the lead free law is going?

A: Considering how pervasive the use of lead was in products found in and around homes for many years, including plumbing products, the regulatory efforts in removing lead from our surroundings has been very successful.

The new regulation for lead free plumbing that went into effect on last January in the U.S. was a huge step in further limiting the amount of lead allowed in commercial and home plumbing product intended for drinking water contact. The industry has matched this regulatory effort by changing their product formulations and getting their products tested and certified to national standards.

Q: What tips can you share with specifiers regarding identifying lead free compliant products?

A: Specifying independent third-party certification, such as NSF or UL, to NSF/ANSI 61 or NSF/ANSI 372 is essential and the best way to determine compliance to safety and quality requirements. We recommend referring to this guide to help properly identify and understand the various lead free certification marks.

Q: NSF International offers training and education. Are engineers, specifiers, etc. reaching out for lead free insight?

A: Since the regulations went into effect January 2014, the number of questions and requests we receive from industry and consumers regarding lead free plumbing products has declined significantly. We have found that there is an ever increasing level of awareness on this topic and most companies have a solid understanding of the lead free requirements and how to demonstrate their compliance. This is in contrast to 2013, which was a year when we devoted a great deal of effort in helping our customers understand the lead free requirements and what they needed to do to comply.

Q: What message is NSF trying to get across to industry professionals right now regarding lead free?

A: Now that manufacturers, for the most part, have gained third-party certification to demonstrate their compliance to lead free regulations, it’s time for the specifiers to know and understand what to look for when specifying plumbing products. The NSF/ANSI 61 mark means that the product complies with the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act’s lead free requirements, as well as demonstrates that the product has been tested to verify that it does not add harmful levels of other metals or nonmetal contaminants to drinking water. NSF International developed a brief lead free marks guide for specifiers, which can be found at www.nsf.org/newsroom_pdf/water_nsf_ansi_61_your_answer_lead-free.pdf.

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