NSF International tests and certifies home water filtration options that are effective at reducing lead to below safe limits


HONG KONG — While replacing lead service lines and old fixtures may be desirable, it isn't always possible, especially if you are a renter or live in a multi-unit building. Depending on the lead levels being detected, home water treatment devices may be a more practical alternative. Potential treatment options for lead can include filters, reverse osmosis units and distillers. Make sure the system is certified under U.S. National Sanitation Foundation standards 53, 58 (for reverse osmosis systems) or 62 (for water distillation systems) for lead reduction, which means that the system has been independently verified to be able to reduce lead from 150 micrograms per liter to 10 micrograms per liter or less, which is below the safe limit set by the World Health Organization and used in Hong Kong.

If you do choose to use an NSF certified water treatment system, remember that most water treatment systems have replaceable components or require regular service, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's maintenance instructions and replace filters at the recommended interval.

To find home water filtration devices that have been tested and certified by the U.S. National Sanitation Foundation (also called NSF International), visit info.nsf.org/Certified/DWTU/ and select ‘lead reduction’ under the list of contaminants.  Consumers can also narrow search results by product type such as pour-through pitcher filters or filters that attach to the faucet or refrigerator.

How a water filter earns U.S. National Sanitation Foundation (NSF International) certification to standards 53, 58 (for reverse osmosis systems) or 62 (for water distillation systems):

To earn NSF certification, water treatment systems must undergo extensive testing to confirm that they meet the strict requirements of American National Standards. In addition to verifying that the system is structurally sound, NSF verifies that:

  • The contaminant reduction claims such as lead reduction shown on the label are true.
  • The system does not add anything harmful to the water.
  • The product labeling, advertising and literature are not misleading.

Certification for performance means NSF has tested a water treatment product using specific procedures and has confirmed that it can effectively reduce the contaminants claimed on the product label such as lead. NSF also requires all products to be re-tested periodically and re-certified each year, which ensures that products continue to meet all requirements over time.

NSF certified products bear a certification mark to indicate the product has been tested and certified by our organization.

The NSF Drinking Water Treatment Units laboratory is the largest laboratory of its kind in the world and performs over 1,000 tests every year in support of the 6,000 water treatment products currently certified by NSF. For a list of certified filters, visit http://www.nsf.org/certified-products-systems

Other helpful resources for consumers:

  1. Guide to drinking water contaminants
  2. Information on how to choose the best water filter for you
  3. What NSF certification means for other products (dietary supplements, home appliances, food and more)

For more information or to schedule an interview with a water quality expert at the U.S. National Sanitation Foundation, contact Irene Han at jhan@nsf.org.

About U.S. National Sanitation Foundation (NSF International): NSF International is an independent global organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the building materials, food, water, health sciences and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF International is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. Operating in more than 155 countries, NSF International is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Food Safety, Water Quality and Indoor Environment.

The U.S. National Sanitation Foundation (also called NSF International), led the development of the American National Standards for all chemicals used to treat drinking water and materials/products coming into contact with drinking water in the U.S. Certification to these standards verifies products do not leach harmful levels of contaminants such as lead into water. In 1990, the government agency that regulates drinking water in the U.S. called the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency replaced its own drinking water product advisory program with these NSF standards. Today, most plumbing codes in the U.S. and some other countries require certification to NSF standards for pipes and plumbing components in commercial and residential buildings.