NSF has certified 56 water treatment devices to the first American National Standard developed to address consumer concerns of pharmaceuticals and other contaminants in drinking water

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Global public health and safety organization NSF International has developed the first American National Standard that validates the effectiveness of water treatment devices that are designed to reduce trace levels of emerging contaminants in drinking water. The standard, named NSF/ANSI 401: Drinking Water Treatment Units - Emerging Compounds/Incidental Contaminants, addresses the ability of a water treatment device to remove up to 15 contaminants from drinking water. Types of contaminants include some pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medications, herbicides, pesticides and chemicals used in manufacturing such as bisphenol A (BPA).

NSF has certified 56 products to NSF/ANSI 401 at varying levels, providing home water treatment options to consumers concerned about these contaminants. The first manufacturers to achieve NSF/ANSI 401 certification for one or more of their water treatment devices include 3M Purification Inc., Access Business Group LLC, Amway China Co., Aquasana Inc., Electrolux Home Products, Everpure LLC, General Electric Company, Kaz USA Inc., Kemflo / Filbur and Whirlpool Corporation. To view the list of all 56 certified products, visit NSF International’s online listings.

While not a public health issue, the contaminants covered in NSF/ANSI 401 have been detected in drinking water supplies at trace levels and can affect some consumers’ perception of drinking water quality. In fact, an independent survey conducted on behalf of NSF International indicated that 63 percent of Americans are concerned about pharmaceuticals and other contaminants in their drinking water.

The new standard sets requirements for water treatment and filtration devices that reduce up to 15 individual contaminants, which have been identified in published studies as occurring in drinking water.

Prescription Drugs

  • Meprobamate: a compound found in anti-anxiety drugs.
  • Phenytoin: an anti-epileptic drug.
  • Atenolol: a beta blocker drug.
  • Carbamazepine: an anti-convulsant and mood-stabilizing drug.
  • Trimethoprim: an antibiotic medication.
  • Estrone: a prescription birth control drug.

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Ibuprofen: an over-the-counter pain reliever and anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Naproxen: an over-the-counter pain reliever and anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Herbicides and Pesticides
  • DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide): a pesticide and common active ingredient in insect repellents.
  • Metolachlor: an organic compound that is widely used as an herbicide.
  • Linuron: an herbicide often used in the control of grasses and weeds.

Chemical Compounds

  • TCEP (tris(2-carboxyethyl)phosphine): a chemical compound used as a flame retardant, plasticizer and viscosity regulator in various types of polymers including polyurethanes, polyester resins and polyacrylates.
  • TCPP (Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl)phosphate): a chemical compound used as a flame retardant.
  • BPA (Bisphenol A): a chemical compound used as a plasticizer.
  • Nonyl phenol: a collection of compounds often used as a precursor to commercial detergents.

Products covered in the standard include several types of point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry (POE) products such as faucet mount, under sink, counter top, plumbed-in, refrigerator, pour-through, mouth drawn and hand squeezed sports bottle type filtration systems, POU reverse osmosis systems and traditional filtration systems.

Earning certification to NSF/ANSI 401 demonstrates that the product has been independently tested and verified to reduce specific contaminants. Each product was also evaluated to verify compliance with material, design and construction, performance, product literature and labeling requirements.

Background the development of NSF/ANSI 401: NSF led the development of the American National Standards for all materials and products that treat or come in contact with drinking water. In 1990, the U.S. EPA replaced its own drinking water product advisory program with these NSF standards. Today, all major plumbing codes require certification to NSF standards for pipes and plumbing components in commercial and residential buildings. As an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited organization, NSF continues its 43-year leadership in developing water standards with the development of NSF/ANSI 401.

Members of NSF’s Joint Committee on Drinking Water Treatment and the NSF Task Group on Endocrine Disrupting Compounds and Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products developed the standard in cooperation with other industry, academic and regulatory experts. This included extensive review of scientifically published literature about these compounds and their occurrence and detection in drinking water. The standard was developed in accordance with the requirements set forth by ANSI, a private, non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. This process ensures balanced input from public health/regulatory officials, users/consumer representatives and industry representatives.

Certified water treatment devices are authorized to use the NSF mark on product packaging and marketing materials and are listed on NSF International’s website.

For more information on the NSF/ANSI 401 standard or NSF’s Drinking Water Treatment Programs, contact americas@nsf.org or visit NSF’s drinking water webpage. You can also email europe@nsf.org, asia@nsf.org, brasil@nsf.org and info@nsf.org.cn (China) for additional information.

Editor’s note: To schedule an interview with NSF Drinking Water Expert Rick Andrew, contact Kelly Ingerly at +1 734-827-6850 or media@nsf.org.

About NSF International: 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 to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. Operating in more than 155 countries, NSF 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.

In addition to developing and certifying to drinking water standards, additional NSF services include food safety and quality programs; management systems registrations; sustainability standards development, claims and product verification; training, consulting, auditing, GMP and GLP testing, certification, R&D and regulatory guidance for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries; and testing and certification programs for bottled water and beverages, dietary supplements and consumer products.