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American National Standard Aims to Reduce Public Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water

New York, Sep 24, 2007

In a move to better protect the public from lead contaminants in drinking water, NSF International recently released an important update to its American National Standard for drinking water system components.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nearly twenty percent of human exposure to lead is attributable to its presence in drinking water. Lead enters the water supply system primarily through plumbing materials (i.e., lead solder, brass, bronze and other alloys), making the testing and evaluation of water system components a priority.

From pipes to faucets, NSF/ANSI Standard 61, Drinking Water System Components–Health Effects, is the nationally recognized health effects standard for all devices, components and materials that contact drinking water. First published in 1988, the standard establishes testing and evaluation criteria to determine whether contaminants are found above acceptable levels in finished waters. The amount of lead in water can depend on a number of factors, including the age of lead-containing materials, their manner of manufacture, and how long the water is in contact with the materials.

The update to NSF Standard 61 reduces the standard’s total allowable concentration of lead three-fold, from 15 micrograms/liter to 5 micrograms/liter.

“We take the health and wellbeing of the public very seriously,” said Bob Ferguson, NSF vice president, water systems. “This change to NSF/ANSI Standard 61 . . . demonstrates our ongoing commitment to protect drinking water and improve public health.”

Many U.S. states and Canadian provinces require that products used in municipal water distribution systems and building plumbing systems comply with NSF 61. To allow industry sufficient time to design and produce products using alternative materials that meet the revised standard, the standard has an implementation date of July 1, 2012.

“EPA commends NSF for their continued efforts to reduce the public's exposure to lead,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water. “This revised standard is a constructive and cooperative step forward to lower the levels of lead in materials that come into contact with consumers' drinking water.”

For more information on ANSI/NSF 61, please click here.

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