NSF International (NSF) has added perchlorate to the list of chemicals that drinking water treatment units can be tested against. Perchlorate is both naturally occurring and a manmade chemical found in rocket fuel that may pose serious health risks to consumers. NSF is an independent, not-for-profit organization that certifies products and writes standards for food, water, air and consumer goods.
The new requirements, under NSF/ANSI Standard 58, test and certify drinking water treatment units to ensure that products are available to reduce consumer exposure to perchlorate. Perchlorate has been known to cause thyroid malfunction by decreasing thyroid hormone production needed for prenatal and postnatal growth and development, as well as normal body metabolism. In addition, perchlorate has been linked to thyroid tumor formation.
Manufacturers now will have a new set of guidelines for perchlorate in drinking water. The protocol was added to NSF/ANSI Standard 58: Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Treatment Systems, an American national standard that covers reverse osmosis systems designed to reduce specific health related contaminants that may be present in drinking water.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is studying perchlorate, but the agency has not yet determined how adverse it may be to people's health and what levels of perchlorate are damaging. NSF's move in testing and certifying treatment systems that reduce perchlorate was a proactive measure to help ensure safer drinking water until additional research is conducted on perchlorate exposure.
The protocol to evaluate drinking water treatment unit devices for perchlorate reduction performance was developed by the NSF Joint Committee on Drinking Water Treatment Units, which is composed of a balanced representation of public health regulators, manufacturers and users. NSF's Council for Public Health Consultants, an advisory group of professionals, academicians and regulatory officials, reviewed the protocol to ensure it provided public health protection. Both groups will continue to evaluate perchlorate and its impact on humans.
NSF also evaluates water treatment devices to ensure that they reduce contaminants claimed by the manufacturer, meet structural integrity requirements and are constructed of materials that do not leach harmful contaminants into the water being treated. For added assurance, NSF also requires that all products meet annual re-certification requirements. Unannounced plant inspections and periodic retesting are required for all companies that receive NSF Certification.
For an updated list of water treatment devices that comply with the new perchlorate reduction testing protocol, visit www.nsf.org/certified/dwtu.