The latest standards for protecting drinking water

Nov. 7, 2014

New water treatment requirements help to safeguard against harmful chemicals in drinking water.

Protecting the quality and safety of our nation’s drinking water is an important and continuous task. NSF International, a global independent public health organization, works with drinking water utilities, water supply regulatory agencies and treatment chemical manufacturers to make sure that harmful contaminants and chemicals are not added to our drinking water. In efforts to further protect our drinking water, NSF has updated an existing standard to incorporate tamper evident packaging requirements for drinking water chemicals. This article will discuss the new requirements for drinking water treatment chemicals and their impact on the water industry.

Water treatment chemicals

Beginning with the requirements for water treatment chemicals, Standard NSF/ANSI 60: Drinking Water Treatment Chemicals – Health Effects, establishes requirements to verify treatment chemicals do not add unsafe levels of chemicals or contaminants to drinking water. This includes treatment chemicals for corrosion and scale control, pH adjustment, coagulants and flocculants, softening, disinfection and oxidation chemicals, precipitation and sequestering chemicals as well as other specialty chemicals used in the treatment of public drinking water supplies. The NSF certification includes:

  • A review of the chemical’s formulation and maximum use level
  • An audit of the manufacturing facility/facilities (see sidebar “NSF/ANSI 60 Audit Requirements”)
  • Testing of the chemical at 10 times the maximum use level to determine any harmful contaminants that may be added to drinking water
  • Testing regulated contaminants, such as lead and other contaminants not covered in drinking water regulations but have had health-based criteria established according to the standard.

In addition to the NSF Mark, the following is required on the product packaging or bulk shipping documents:

  • Company name
  • Production location
  • Trade designation/model
  • Lot number or date code
  • Chemical name
  • Net weight or volume
  • Maximum use level.

To protect water supplies from harmful contaminants, 48 states require treatment chemicals to comply with NSF/ANSI 60.

Tamper evident packaging requirements

The New York Department of Health raised an issue several years ago regarding a sodium hypochlorite solution that had been contaminated with a solvent. The NSF 60 Committee reviewed this matter and determined a need for tamper evident packaging requirements for treatment chemicals. This led to the development of new certification requirements for tamper evident packaging. With these new requirements, buyers of chemicals can now have confidence that certified chemicals have not been tampered with during the shipping and receiving processes.

The new tamper evident packaging requirements are designed to ensure that any container that a treatment chemical arrives in has tamper evident packaging, permitting operators to determine if the package has been opened prior to use. This is key to preventing accidental or intentional contamination.

Utilities need to be aware that all chemicals are required to arrive in tamper evident packaging; if delivered containers do not include this feature, utilities should notify suppliers.

Tamper evident packaging guidelines:

  • Bags and super sacks must employ seals that are destroyed upon opening or that make resealing unlikely.
  • Drums and small containers should be constructed and properly sealed to make opening or substitution obvious to the purchaser.
  • Bulk shipments need to employ tamper evident seals over chemical ports, be delivered in a direct chain of custody system by the chemical vendor or supplied by another method which provides equivalent protection of the provided product.

Suitable containers should not contribute contaminants to the finished product and must be properly sealed to prevent possible contamination during shipping and storage. Reused or recycled containers should meet one of the following conditions: The container is dedicated to one chemical type and under control of the company; the container shall be washed prior to loading products for potable water treatment.

Dave Purkiss is the general manager of the NSF International Municipal Water Products Program. He has managed NSF’s drinking water treatment and distribution and recreational water products programs. Purkiss has worked at NSF for the past 27 years, including four years with NSF-WRc in the U.K., which provides testing for water fittings and materials. He has earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Michigan State University. For more information about NSF testing and certification requirements, please contact Rick Andrew at 734-913-5757 or [email protected] or visit NSF’s water programs web page:

Sidebar: NSF/ANSI 60 Audit requirements

  • Verification of ingredients and supplier sources
  • Tour of plant location
  • Review of batch sheets (blended products)
  • Review quality assurance processes
  • Collect samples for product testing
  • Review of product labeling (traceability)
  • Review packaging (trace contamination control)
  • Review product packaging for T/E compliance.

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