Most people don’t read labels or instructions. We might read the label on packaged food or a supplement, but most of us tend to pass over the information provided on the labels of other products we purchase.
However, don’t overlook the product packaging and literature of certified water treatment systems. They contain helpful information important to the safe and proper usage of the system, including details about contaminant reduction claims, usage restrictions and filter change requirements.
While the most detailed information about a system is usually found in the instruction manual or on the product’s data plate, the packaging can answer many of the following questions:
- Does the system bear a registered trademark from a certifying organization such as NSF?
- Does the package list the contaminants for which performance was verified? Are these the contaminants you were looking to reduce?
- Are any usage limitations noted, such as that the system reduces pentavalent arsenic but may not reduce other forms of arsenic?
Product Data Plate
Certified water treatment systems also have a permanently-attached plate or label that contains:
- The manufacturer’s name and address
- The system model number as well as the model designation for any replacement components
In addition to the standard data plate, some systems may also have special labels:
- For activated carbon systems: “Do not use with water that is microbiologically unsafe or of unknown quality without adequate disinfection before or after the system”
- For systems claiming volatile organic compound (VOC) reduction: "Conforms to NSF/ANSI 53 for VOC reduction. See performance data sheet for individual contaminants and reduction performance.”
Performance Data Sheet
Another helpful document when considering the purchase of a water system is a performance data sheet, usually available from the manufacturer or their authorized dealers. In additional to basic product information, the document also provides:
- The rated service flow in gallons or liters per minute (or per day)
- The rated service cycle in gallons or liters (after which the filter will need changing)
- Any warranty offered by the manufacturer
- General installation conditions along with ongoing operational and maintenance requirements, including frequency of component replacement or service to the system
- Identification of the third-party testing organization along with a list of the contaminants for which performance was validated. In addition, some companies may show the average percent reduction of impurities, although it isn’t required.
Be an educated consumer. Read product labels and other literature carefully so that you understand the potential capabilities of the product as well as any operational limitations. Most importantly, check that the system has been tested and certified.