NSF Standards and Training Seminars

Latest water updates for design professionals.

NSF International is a global independent organization that writes standards and tests and certifies products for the water, food, health sciences and consumer goods industries. The organization has seen a lot of growth over the last 20 years and has significantly broadened the scope of its services since introducing its first standard more than 55 years ago.  

NSF International offers trainings and educational seminars related to the plumbing industry to support public health professionals, including webinars, on-site/classroom training and training at conferences. The seminars are an important resource for many state and local health departments and design professionals that need information or training on NSF standards or product certifications. 

NSF International FOG Prevention Conference 2017 

I have attended many seminars and workshops at NSF International, including a recent two-day Fats, Oils & Grease (FOG) conference to address problems associated with FOG and grease interceptor sizing and testing issues. The discussion covered the many differences in how grease waste systems are regulated, or not regulated, in different parts of the country. We also discussed various standards, issues facing municipalities when dealing with maintenance and cleaning ordinances, and the problems with sanitary sewer overflows into streams and rivers caused by FOG blockages in building drains and public sewers. 

Other recent NSF International seminars and workshops included:

 

NSF International is a global independent organization that writes standards and tests and certifies products for the water, food, health sciences and consumer goods industries. The organization has seen a lot of growth over the last 20 years and has significantly broadened the scope of its services since introducing its first standard more than 55 years ago.  

NSF International offers trainings and educational seminars related to the plumbing industry to support public health professionals, including webinars, on-site/classroom training and training at conferences. The seminars are an important resource for many state and local health departments and design professionals that need information or training on NSF standards or product certifications. 

NSF International FOG Prevention Conference 2017 

I have attended many seminars and workshops at NSF International, including a recent two-day Fats, Oils & Grease (FOG) conference to address problems associated with FOG and grease interceptor sizing and testing issues. The discussion covered the many differences in how grease waste systems are regulated, or not regulated, in different parts of the country. We also discussed various standards, issues facing municipalities when dealing with maintenance and cleaning ordinances, and the problems with sanitary sewer overflows into streams and rivers caused by FOG blockages in building drains and public sewers. 

Other recent NSF International seminars and workshops included:

Building Water Health Seminar

I attended a Building Water Health Seminar titled “Prevention of Disease and Injury Associated with Building Water Health,” which addressed how building owners could develop water management programs to evaluate or assess building water systems including: cooling towers, plumbing systems, decorative fountains, hot tubs and other sources of contaminated building water systems that can grow bacteria and be aerosolized into water droplets and breathed into the lungs. The purpose of the training is to help building owners understand how Legionella grows and how it can be amplified, transmitted and minimized in growth. NSF team members travel around the country giving this seminar to help building owners, designers, contractors and health officials understand how they can design, construct and maintain building water systems to control Legionella.

Flint Water Crisis Event

NSF International recently gave a presentation on Legionella prevention for local building owners and facility managers at an event in Flint, Michigan, sponsored by the Genesee County Health Department. I attended this event, which included health officials and covered the situation that led up to the water quality crisis in Flint. 

Discussions included how the standard, NSF 453: Cooling Towers – Treatment, Operation and Maintenance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease could be used to minimize the spread of the disease. The discussion covered the need for requirements for documentation, recordkeeping, validation and auditing, in addition to ASHRAE standard requirements. We also discussed a new standard that is in development, NSF/ANSI 444: Prevention of Disease and Injury Associated with Building Water Systems, which will address how to control all contaminants in building water systems, including Legionella. 

NSF International experts discussed how compliance with these standards would help hospitals and other buildings with vulnerable occupants with guidance on how to develop water management programs to control Legionella growth.  

NSF International has several upcoming training seminars in Ann Arbor, Michigan dealing with building water systems: 

NSF/ANSI Standard 60 Training – Drinking Water Treatment Chemicals – Health Effects
Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

NSF/ANSI Standard 61 Training – Drinking Water System Components – Health Effects
Thursday, April 27, 2017, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

NSF/ANSI Standard 50 Training –  Equipment for Swimming Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs and Other Recreational Water Facilities
Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

Building Water Heath Seminar – Prevention of Disease and Injury Associated with Building Water Health  
Available upon request

History of NSF International

NSF International was founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) by three sanitarians who were working in the University of Michigan School of Public Health: Walter Snyder, Henry Vaughan and Nathan Sinai. NSF developed its first two standards in the early 1950s: NSF 1: Sanitation of Soda Fountain Equipment and NSF 2: Luncheonette (Restaurant) Equipment. The National Sanitation Foundation Testing Laboratory (NSFTL) was chartered in 1952 and the (Restaurant) Food Equipment Program began at that time. Soon after, with its contacts from the UM School of Public Health, NSF established the Council of Public Health Consultants, an independent group of public health representatives from around the country that provided final review and acceptance of standards. All of NSF’s public health and safety standards are developed using an open, consensus-based process and utilize many public health officials for input and comments.  

As the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) expanded, and services grew beyond sanitation and into global markets, it changed its name to “NSF International” in 1990. The letters NSF were kept in the trademarked logo to honor the original name. 

NSF International has 70 active public health and safety standards, most developed using the ANSI process, as well as 77 protocols for maintenance, use and care of appliances, food equipment, drinking water filters and other products. Products that have been tested and certified to meet the NSF standards bear the “NSF” mark.

In 1960, the organization led the development of NSF/ANSI 50, the pool, spa and hot tub products standard, which is today referenced or required in public health and construction codes and other guidelines. In 1963, NSF developed a certification program for NSF/ANSI 50. With the introduction of plastic piping in the mid-1960s, NSF developed a Plastic Piping and Wastewater Treatment Program. In 1967, NSF Testing Labs became a not-for-profit corporation.

In 1980, NSF International created the Water Treatment and Distribution Systems Program to assist the U.S. EPA’s efforts to improve drinking water standards. The majority of U.S. states now require drinking water products, such as plastics, plumbing and water filters, be certified to NSF standards.

In 1985, NSF started a Drinking Water Additives Program with a cooperative agreement from the U.S. EPA.

From 1993 to 1999, NSF continued to grow, and the Center for Public Health Education at NSF International was founded. In 1999, NSF moved into and a new state-of-the-art headquarters and laboratory facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with space for future expansion. I was able to work on the new NSF headquarters project when I was with Smithgroup Inc., Architects & Engineers in Detroit.

In 2007, NSF completed an 80,000 square-foot laboratory expansion at its headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to increase its engineering, microbiology, chemistry and toxicology laboratory capabilities to a total of 106,000 square feet.

In the last 10 years, NSF has acquired companies and laboratories worldwide to establish itself as a global leader in standards development testing and certification of products.   

NSF International has a series of standards that are related to plumbing or building water systems. They are as follows: 

NSF/ANSI 14: Plastics Piping System Components and Related Materials: The purpose of this standard is to establish minimum physical, performance and health effects requirements for plastics piping system components and related materials. The  requirements in this standard apply to thermoplastic and thermoset plastic piping system components including, but not limited to pipes, fittings, valves, joining materials, gaskets and appurtenances. The requirements also apply to materials (resin or blended compounds) and ingredients used to manufacture plastic piping system components. This standard provides definitions and requirements for materials, ingredients, products, quality assurance, marking and recordkeeping. 

NSF/ANSI 42: Drinking Water Treatment Units – Aesthetic Effects: This standard covers point-of-use treatment systems using filtration as the treatment technology for reduction of aesthetic contaminants in drinking water. Components of these systems are also included. This process occurs when liquid, gas or dissolved or suspended matter adheres to the surface of, or in the pores of, an adsorbent media. Carbon filters are an example of this type of product. This standard does not cover reverse osmosis systems. 

NSF/ANSI 44: Residential Cation Exchange Water Softeners: These systems incorporate a cation exchange resin that is regenerated with sodium or potassium chloride. These water softeners reduce calcium and magnesium ions and replace them with sodium or potassium ions.
NSF/ANSI 50: Equipment for Swimming Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs and Other Recreational Water Facilities: The purpose of this standard is to establish minimum materials, design and construction, and performance requirements for components, products, equipment and systems related to public and residential recreational water facility operation. 

NSF/ANSI 53: Drinking Water Treatment Units – Health Effects: The purpose of this standard is to establish minimum requirements for materials, design and construction, and performance of point-of-use and point-of-entry drinking water treatment systems that are designed to reduce specific health-related contaminants in public or private water supplies. Such systems include point-of-entry drinking water treatment systems used to treat all or part of the water at the inlet to a residential facility or a bottled water production facility, and includes the material and components used in these systems.

NSF/ANSI 55: Ultraviolet Water Treatment Systems: These systems use ultraviolet light to disinfect water (Class A systems) or to reduce the amount of non-disease causing bacteria in water (Class B systems).

NSF/ANSI 58: Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Treatment Systems: 

This standard covers point-of-use treatment systems that incorporate a process that uses reverse pressure to force water through a semi-permeable membrane. Most reverse osmosis systems incorporate one or more additional filters on either side of the membrane. Components of these systems are also included in the standard.

NSF/ANSI 60:  Certification Policies for Drinking Water Treatment Chemicals – Health Effects: This standard contains health effects requirements for drinking water treatment chemicals that are directly added to water and are intended to be present in the finished water. This standard also contains health effects requirements for other chemical products that are directly added to water but are not intended to be present in the finished water. Chemicals covered by this standard include, but are not limited to, coagulation and flocculation chemicals, softening, precipitation, sequestering, pH adjustment, and corrosion/scale control chemicals, disinfection and oxidation chemicals, miscellaneous treatment chemicals and miscellaneous water supply chemicals. 

NSF/ANSI 61: Drinking Water System Components – Health Effects: This standard is intended to cover specific materials or products that come into contact with drinking water, drinking water treatment chemicals, or both. The focus of the standard is evaluation of contaminants or impurities imparted indirectly to drinking water. The products and materials covered include, but are not limited to, process media (e.g., carbon, sand), protective materials (e.g., coatings, linings, liners), joining and sealing materials (e.g., solvent cements, welding materials, gaskets), pipes and related products (e.g., pipes, tanks, fittings), mechanical devices used in treatment/transmission/distribution systems (e.g., valves, chlorinators, separation membranes, point-of entry drinking water treatment systems) and mechanical plumbing devices (e.g., faucets, endpoint control valves). 

NSF/ANSI 62: Drinking Water Distillation Systems: These systems heat water to the boiling point, and then collect the water vapor as it condenses, leaving behind contaminants such as heavy metals. Some contaminants that convert readily into gases, such as volatile organic chemicals, can carry over with the water vapor.

NSF/ANSI 177: Shower Filtration Systems – Aesthetic Effects: These products attach directly to the shower arm just in front of the homeowner’s showerhead.

NSF/ANSI 350: On-site Residential and Commercial Water Reuse Treatment Systems: This standard contains minimum requirements for on-site residential and commercial water treatment systems. Systems include the following:

1. Graywater treatment systems having a rated treatment capacity up to 5,678 L/day (1,500 gal/day). This applies to on-site residential and commercial treatment systems that treat graywater, those that treat laundry water, and those that treat bathing water. See 8.1 for performance testing and evaluation. 

2. Commercial treatment systems. This applies to on-site commercial treatment systems that treat combined commercial facility wastewater and commercial facility laundry water of any capacity, and those treatment systems that treat graywater from commercial facilities with capacities exceeding 5,678 L/day (1,500 gal/day). These systems shall be performance tested and evaluated at the location of the reuse system installation, using the wastewater generated on-site from the facility serving the treatment system. 

3. Management methods and end uses appropriate for the treated effluent discharged from on-site residential and commercial treatment systems meeting Class R (single family residential) or Class C (multi-family and commercial facilities). Requirements of this standard include indoor restricted urban water use, such as toilet and urinal flushing, and outdoor unrestricted urban water use, such as surface irrigation. 

The standard is intended to address public health and environmental issues. Actual performance for any site or system may vary, depending on variations in raw water supply (such as alkalinity and hardness), wastewater constituents and patterns of use. The end use of the effluent is the responsibility of the owner, design professionals and regulatory officials. Adequate safeguards should be in place if the water can be a source of bacterial growth due to long storage times and dissipation of water treatment chemicals.

It appears to me this new standard will continue to be updated as new terminology continues to be developed for other re-use or reclaimed water systems, such as “reclaimed water systems,” “re-use water systems,” “rainwater collection systems,” “gray water systems” and “water reuse systems.” The treatment levels or quality and applications for the acceptable use of these water systems will need to be clearly defined to provide for good public health and safety. 

At this time, I would not recommend a re-use or reclaim water system for any building where the water can come into contact with the building occupants or be aerosolized within the building. Buildings with a high-risk population, or with people who have a suppressed immune system are at high-risk of getting Legionnaires’ disease if the water  becomes contaminated. If something goes wrong and contaminants get into the system downstream of the treatment process, it could be deadly. Flushing of plumbing fixtures and irrigation are common uses for these types of systems. 

Water age and water treatment chemical dissipation is becoming a real issue as water use is reduced and water is redirected for re-use. In my opinion, design professionals should use caution, and for your own protection from liability, you should advise your clients on the potential hazards.

NSF/ANSI 372: Drinking Water System Components – Lead Content: This standard establishes procedures for the determination of lead content based on the wetted surface areas of products. This standard applies to any drinking water system component that conveys or dispenses water for human consumption through drinking or cooking. 

NSF P376: Mechanical Water Filtration Systems for the Reduction of Bacteria and Fungi for Hand-washing and Showering in Health Care Settings: This protocol establishes requirements for point-of-use filtration systems that provide supplemental treatment of microbiologically safe drinking water in health care settings for hand washing and showering. These requirements include microbiological reduction performance, materials safety, design, construction and structural performance. 

NSF/ANSI 401: Treatment Systems for Emerging Contaminants: Systems covered by this standard include several types of point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry (POE) systems that have been verified to reduce up to 15 emerging contaminants from drinking water.

Building Water System Health Standards:

NSF/ANSI 444: Prevention of Disease and Injury Associated with Building Water Systems: The purpose of this standard is to establish minimum practices necessary to prevent disease and injury from physical, chemical and microbial hazards associated with water systems in buildings. The minimum practices established by this standard apply to the design, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance, repair, replacement and expansion of new and existing buildings and their associated (potable and non-potable) water systems and components. This standard applies to human-occupied commercial, institutional, multi-unit residential and industrial buildings and entertainment venues, such as concert halls and sports arenas (covered buildings). This standard does not include single-family residential buildings. This standard is intended for use by owners and managers of covered buildings. Expected date of publication is some time in 2018.

NSF 453: Cooling Towers – Treatment, Operation and Maintenance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease: The purpose of this standard is to set forth minimum practices required for treatment, operation and maintenance of cooling tower systems, including requirements for documentation, record-keeping, validation and auditing, in order to prevent Legionnaires’ disease. 

NSF P459: Products Intended to Reduce or Mitigate Biofilm: This standard evaluates inline devices, including their materials and chemicals, for biofilm prevention and/or reduction and control for the plumbing downstream of the device used for drinking water. This scope includes prevention and/or reduction and control claims of inline products, from the inline device whether point-of-entry or point-of-use for all plumbing downstream of the device within the entire building environment, including storage tanks, storage systems and any plumbed-in device used for drinking water. These devices are intended for use in buildings that are supplied with drinking water deemed acceptable for human consumption by a health or regulatory agency having jurisdiction. The expected date of publication is some time in 2017. 

Ron George, CPD, is president of Plumb-Tech Design & Consulting Services LLC. Visit plumb-techllc.com.

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