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NSF 101: Know The Standards For Your Water Filters

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There are different kinds of water filtration and delivery systems that are sold in the market. These companies are claiming their products have passed the standards. These standards are very essential for consumers because this validates that the product passed the quality standards and they are getting what they are paying for.

Some customers might be skeptical when purchasing a product that confidently claims that they are adhering to the standards. So, how do we know the product adheres to the following standards? Do advertisements shown on TV or online imply they are following the standards? 

It can be difficult to know if the water filtration system consumer purchased can truly reduce contaminants in water. There are so many claims, but, are those valid claims?

How does NSF Certification work?

According to Carbon Block Tech, when a product is given an NSF and is submitted for certification, that particular product undergoes intensive performance and safety tests to ensure that it functions optimally. Product testing results can be affected by the following:

  • Durability of the materials for the water filters.
  • Overall process in manufacturing.
  • Labeling of the products.

The certifications are credible since it is based on the standard protocol provided by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Task Force for  testing water purifier microbiology. These people ensure that the products that are released for the public are safe.

Aside from this, the facilitation of the public health standard development as well as the provision of certifications, are also part of their duties. This way, food, water and other consumer products (also our environment!) are safe to use. So, when you see the NSF logo on a product, that means that it has undergone rigorous tests and has been approved.

The international standards of NSF are often cited that may impact public health. They provide a cost-effective method that ensures the needs of the agencies. This also opens transparency and cooperation especially with our health departments and public health.

NSF is an independent, non-profit organization that advocates the protection of the environment and public health. They create standards that serve as basis and test products for food, water, and consumer goods. Those that pass get the certification. Also, they are committed to:

  1. Health and protection of the public and the environment.
  2. Standards protecting public health that have garnered general approval.
  3. Duly recognized by another accredited third-party institution that provides certifications.
  4. Proper and open communication and cooperation between the stakeholders and the public to provide optimal health to the people.
  5. Educating the public and giving necessary training to promote optimal health.
  6. Sustainability of plans and advocacy.

How to Get NSF Certification

Getting into the details of how the certification process is done, NSF says that it depends entirely on the product, process, or service that needs certification, and this includes the certification type. But, it generally follows these seven steps:

  1. Fill out the application form and submit it.
  2. Evaluation of the product, process, or service.
  3. Testing the product in the laboratory.
  4. Inspecting the facility for manufacturing, confirming production and sampling of products.
  5. Review of test results and acceptance. 
  6. Signing of contract and listing of products.
  7. Inspection of plants annually and product retesting.

Concerning the policies, policies for the certification programs are all based on the drafted contract. The contract informs both parties their rights and responsibilities. Also, it provides the rules and regulations regarding the usage of the NSF logo on the labels and advertisements of the products. 

This includes the prohibition of misleading information. Additionally, when a product causes any type of hazard of the public, the guidelines are entitled to recall those products.

The committees that are involved in the certification process are the NSF Council of Public Health Consultants (CPHC), which serves as the independent, public health ratification step at the end of the process and provides final review and acceptance. They ensure that NSF standards protect public health. 

They are sometimes asked to guide NSF in the design and implementation of conformity and assessment programs in health, technology, and environmental health safeguards. Also, CPHC membership includes only representatives from government, public health, and public service; there is no industry representation.

NSF collaborations with the World Health Organization includes the following:

  • Experts from NSF have been stationed in various countries including Geneva, Brussels, Switzerland, Michigan, and Belgium to aid WHO on their project. This includes the provision of the lacking technical and financial support.
  • NSF supports the contribution of WHO on their guidelines for the quality of drinking water..
  • Safety of water in airlines. This collaboration ultimately led both organizations to develop international guidelines to ensure safety and quality of water in international airlines.
  • Plans for water safety. Secondees have worked for several years in coming up with water safety plans to develop tools for auditing and training for the plans to succeed.
  • Water treatments that can be done at home. Developments of a technical requirement to effectively evaluate low-cost home water treatment systems have recently been started..

Organizations Affiliated with NSF

Working with other organizations allows NSF regulators to collaborate and ensure environmental health. These groups include professional, academic and trade, public health, and government organization.

Professional Association

  • National Environmental health association
  • Association of food and drug officials
  • Canadian institute of public inspectors
  • (Institute of Food Technologists)
  • American Water Works Association
  • Global Food Safety Initiative Rican Society of Plumbing Engineers
  • Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
  • Food and Drug Law Institute
  • International Association for Food Protection

Academic Association

  • Association of Schools of Public Health
  • Association of Environmental Health Academic Programs
  • Trade and industry association
  • Phosphate Forum of the Americas 
  • Organic Trade Association
  • Food Safety Services Providers

Standards Organization

  • American National Standards Institute
  • Canadian Standards Association
  • ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board
  • Standards Council of Canada
  • Conference for Food Protection
  • The Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China

Importance of Having NSF Certification

Consumers and manufacturers know the importance of having the NSF logo on labels and advertisements of products. The mark certifies that the products have followed the guidelines and have met the standards provided during testing.

In cases where manufacturers or consumers have complaints about the product or if requests for investigations need to be made, the NSF encourages regulators to reach them through their hotline or email to check the status of their complaint or request.

If a manufacturer is suspected to have violated the policies imposed upon registration, then the NSF will conduct investigations to clarify the issue. Here is the list of specific violations that relate to making false claims:

  • Misleading claims that may lead consumers to believe that a product or service has been registered and certified by NSF.
  • Withdrawn certification or registration from a formerly registered or certified product or service.
  • Misuse of the NSF trademark or certification on product labels and advertisements.
  • Unauthorized usage of the NSF trademark or certification on product labels and advertisements.

Other regulatory institutions have collaborated with NSF International Regulators to further uplift regulatory programs by giving recognition to accredited certifications that are equivalent to NSF. This is also done to ensure that these certifications are at par with the standards set by the NSF.

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