In 2017, the ASSE International (ASSE) Board of Directors accepted IAPMO’s request to manage the Water Systems product certification program. Because the Water Systems staff was located in the Mokena, Ill. office and worked closely with ASSE staff, the transition was seamless. Although this program has been run by ASSE for three years, there are probably many who are still not familiar with the Water System product certification program and its goal of improving water quality.
Like ASSE’s certification program for plumbing products, the Water Systems program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC). The program uses existing industry standards and works with ASSE’s Standards Program to develop new standards for testing and certification. Standards developed for the Water Systems program focus on material safety, drinking water quality, and water efficiency.
The Water Systems program maintains a list of recognized testing laboratories that have the technical competence to run the critical tests that verify compliance for material safety, contaminant reduction, structural integrity, lead content, and backflow protection. NSF International’s (NSF) Drinking Water Treatment Unit Joint Committee is one of the consensus bodies that maintains standards that the Water Systems program uses for product certification. ASSE staff is a voting member of the NSF consensus committee. The following NSF/ANSI standards are often used by the Water Systems product certification team and they have been developed to improve water quality:
- NSF/ANSI 42, Drinking Water Treatment Unit – Aesthetic Affects
- NSF/ANSI 44, Residential Cation Exchange Water Softeners
- NSF/ANSI 53, Drinking Water Treatment Unit – Aesthetic Affects
- NSF/ANSI 55, Ultraviolet Microbiological Water Treatment Systems
- NSF/ANSI 58, Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Treatment Systems
- NSF/ANSI 177, Shower Filtration Systems – Aesthetic Affects
- NSF/ANSI 244, Drinking Water Treatment Units -Supplemental Microbiological Water Treatment Systems – Filtration
- NSF/ANSI 401, Drinking Water Treatment Units -Emerging Compounds /Incidental Contaminants
Each NSF/ANSI standard covers specific technologies and specific water contaminants that water treatment system products may claim to remove from drinking water. The drinking water treatment unit (DWTU) standards require products to pass an extraction test to ensure the materials that contact water do not add contaminants above safe levels, pass structural integrity tests to ensure the product will not crack or break under normal use conditions, and pass one or more of the many contaminant reduction tests listed in each standard. For example, NSF/ANSI 42 covers water filters that are designed to reduce aesthetic contaminants from drinking water, such as chlorine, chloramine, particulates, and iron. The NSF/ANSI 44 standard covers residential water softeners’ ability to reduce hardness, barium, and radium. NSF/ANSI 53 covers water filters that are designed to reduce health effects performance claims such as lead, PFOA/PFOS, Arsenic, and protozoan cyst. The NSF/ANSI DWTU standards also contain detailed product literature requirements to help users understand which performance claims have been tested and certified. This is an important aspect of the NSF/ANSI standards because each standard includes an extensive list of voluntary claims, and products are not designed to remove all of them.
The Water Systems program also certifies products to recently developed ASSE and IAPMO standards. Below are some of the ASSE and IAPMO standards that the Water Systems program uses to certify products:
- ASSE 1023, Performance Requirements for Electrically Heated or Cooled Water Dispensers
- ASSE 1086, Performance Requirements for Reverse Osmosis Water Efficiency – Drinking Water
- ASSE 1087, Performance Requirements for Commercial and Food Service Water Treatment Equipment Utilizing Drinking Water
- ASSE 1090, Performance Requirements for Drinking Water Atmospheric Water Generators (AWG)
- ASSE LEC 2006, Listing Evaluation Criteria for Point of Entry Reverse Osmosis Systems
- IAPMO/ANSI Z601, Scale Reduction Devices
- IAPMO ICG 322, Alkaline Water – Drinking Water Treatment Units
Similar to the NSF/ANSI standards, ASSE and IAPMO standards have been developed to cover water treatment products designed to improve water quality. For example, ASSE 1023 was recently revised to cover both hot and cold-water dispensers with and without water filtration as an integral part of the product. ASSE 1086 was developed to improve water efficiency of point of use reverse osmosis (RO) systems. Typical point of use RO systems operate at an efficiency around 20% – the 1086 standard requires a minimum efficiency of 40%, doubling the efficiency of many products sold today. ASSE 1087 covers commercial water treatment equipment products, many of which have never been tested or certified prior to this standard being published, but were included in many plumbing system designs. ASSE 1090 was created to test products that create drinking water from the air. ASSE LEC 2006 covers point of entry RO products that are being used to improve water quality for entire homes or offices. IAPMO Z601 standard covers products that make claims to prevent scale in water heaters, and IAPMO’s IGC 322 standard covers products that modify the alkalinity of drinking water.
As the population grows, water quality and water scarcity issues will become even larger problems than they are today. The Water Systems program focuses on the testing and certification of products as we provide solutions to these growing problems. This program is a perfect fit for ASSE’s mission.
Article by Tom Palkon first appeared in ASSE’s Working Pressure magazine