Consumer Resources

As an independent global health and safety organization, NSF International tests and certifies products and writes standards for the food, water and consumer goods industries. Founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation, we changed our name to NSF International in 1990 as we expanded our services worldwide. The letters NSF do not represent any specific words today.

Bottled Water: Five Facts You Should Know

While bottled water and other packaged beverages easily accommodate today’s active lifestyle, what do you really know about these products and how they are regulated? NSF has these five facts every consumer should know about bottled water products.

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  • Open What kind of contaminants is bottled water tested for?

    Bottled water must be checked for the presence of many different contaminants as well as other quality characteristics, including:

    • Aesthetic contaminants, which can adversely affect the taste, odor or color of the water, including iron, manganese, zinc, chloride, sulfate and total dissolved solids.
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    • Health-related contaminants, for which a potential health hazard has been established. Impurities included in this category are arsenic, chromium, lead, mercury and nitrates. In addition to heavy metals and radiological issues, bottled water is checked for many volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), including pesticides and other synthetic chemicals.
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    • Microbiological concerns, including coliform bacteria, which are not disease-causing themselves but indicate the possibility that other disease-causing bacteria may be present. Since bottled water companies are required to ensure their water is microbiologically safe, many choose to disinfect their water prior to bottling through a process such as ozonation, ultraviolet disinfection or chlorination.
  • Open What other items in the home has NSF found to be a germ hot spot?

    If you thought that the bathroom is the germiest place in most homes, this isn’t always the case. In fact, in a 2011 NSF germ study, we discovered that the highest concentration of germs was found in the kitchen. Which items were the germiest? The kitchen sponge, kitchen sink and coffee maker reservoir were all found to contain bacteria or yeast and mold.

    Read more about this study, including what other items in a typical home were found to contain germs and how to make sure to keep them clean.

  • Open Would FDA approval be the same as NSF/ANSI 61 certification?

    FDA doesn’t actually approve products. When a company claims that its materials are FDA approved, it most likely means that their product is produced from materials that comply with FDA regulations for a specific end use, such as for contact with a beverage like juice or milk. In contrast, NSF/ANSI 61 is a product testing standard based on EPA drinking water regulations. Under NSF/ANSI 61, the wetted surfaces of a product undergo testing to determine if any impurities are being introduced that could cause the water to become unsafe for human consumption. The maximum allowed concentrations of impurities are based on U.S. EPA and/or Health Canada limits, whichever is stricter.

  • Open How does regulation of supplements differ from that of prescription or over-the-counter drugs?

    Before marketing, drugs must undergo clinical studies to determine their effectiveness, safety, possible interactions with other substances and appropriate dosages. FDA then reviews this data and determines whether to authorize use of the drugs.

    Dietary supplements fall under the general category of food products. Although FDA does not test or authorize their use prior to them being marketed unless they contain a new ingredient, they still have oversight over these products and can limit the type of ingredients used in product formulations and take action when false or misleading label claims are made.

  • Open Are there any water treatment systems certified to reduce pharmaceutical drug residues?

    Yes. A new American National Standard known as NSF/ANSI 401 – Emerging Contaminants and Incidental Compounds was developed in 2013.  This standard establishes testing procedures to help verify the effectiveness of different types of water treatment systems to reduce up to 15 compounds like pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter drugs and new types of pesticides as well as chemicals used as flame retardants and detergents. A list of products that are currently NSF certified to meet this standard can be found on NSF’s drinking water listings page.

    Emerging contaminants are a new category of water quality concerns for which evidence of health effects has not yet been established, but which consumers are concerned about. Additional information can be found on the NSF/ANSI 401 web page.

  • Open Are cookware products with coatings safe to use?

    NSF certification of cookware involves a thorough review to ensure the product meets voluntary American National Standards for design, construction, materials and cleanability. The materials used on the interior surfaces of the cookware must meet U.S. standards for direct contact with food. Cookware with coatings also undergoes abrasion testing to ensure the coatings will not flake off and adulterate food.

  • Open Where can I find spare parts for my NSF certified product?

    As an independent certification organization, NSF International would not be involved in the manufacture or sale of any products that display our certification mark. Rather, the presence of our mark on a product means that it meets applicable American National Standards for protection of public health.

    If you need replacement parts for an NSF certified product, please contact the manufacturer directly for assistance. Contact information for manufacturers of NSF certified products is available online. If a product is produced overseas and you are having difficulty contacting the manufacturer directly, check your owner’s manual or contact the store where you purchased the product to see if they might be able to offer assistance.

  • Open Are products labeled "all natural" the same as "organic?"

    The term “natural” generally means a product has been minimally processed or is free from synthetic ingredients. It doesn’t mean that the producers or handlers of the ingredients and/or finished products have been audited by an organic certifier to confirm compliance with USDA National Organic Program standards. Other claims such as “free-range,” “hormone-free” and “all natural” can appear on product labels and should likewise not be confused with the term organic.

  • Open Why do I need to keep standing water off my pool and spa covers?

    Although it is important to keep pools and spas covered when not in use, because small children can drown in just a few inches of water, it’s also important to pump any standing water off the cover, especially after a heavy rain. To avoid someone from becoming trapped under a cover, always remove the cover completely before using a pool or spa.

  • Open Does NSF have any standards for gray water or water reuse?

    NSF/ANSI 350 is an American National Standard that establishes minimum material, design, construction and performance requirements for on-site water reuse systems, including water quality requirements for the reduction of chemical and microbiological contaminants. The treated wastewater produced by certified systems is intended for non-potable water use. Subject to local regulatory approval, the treated water can typically be used for restricted indoor water use, such as toilet and urinal flushing, as well as unrestricted outdoor water use, such as lawn irrigation.

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