“Water- a bequest of nature” bases all innovations in curbing water crisis to make our blue planet green and sustainable.
“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”
Contaminated water is a major cause of deaths and diseases; therefore, water quality is a determining factor in human poverty, education and economic opportunities. (UNESCO, Earthscan, 2009)
The problem of water quality is evident from the fact that the contaminated water causes more than 500,000 diarrheal deaths each year (WHO), most of which could be avoided.
Water, that is available for drinking needs to comply with certain parameters to be called safe and potable. International organizations like World Health Organization, Environmental Protection Agency, and International Organization for Standardization etc. have recommended suitable guidelines to standardize the quality of water. Referring to these standards, different independent certification authorities provide Third-Party Certification with respect to various aspects of water, wastewater management, water-related equipment and sanitation.
Third Party Certification
ISO/IEC 17000 defines third party as a “conformity assessment activity that is performed by a person or body that is independent of the person or organization that provides the object, and of the user interests in that object” Third Party certification is important to ensure the validity of the certification process because its independence gives meaning to the whole institution.
Decoding Water Related Certifications from national and international Certifying Authorities
NSF International (http://www.nsf.org/)
Previously named as National Sanitation Foundation, NSF International was founded in 1944 with an objective to develop public health and safety standards. The regulators, industry, consumers, public health experts along with the scientists, engineers and public health professionals facilitate the development of consensus-based national standards and certifications to help protect food, water, consumer products and the environment.
NSF International is accredited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Standards Council of Canada, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Accreditation Service.
The entity that complies with all the standard requirements is labeled with the NSF Mark. It is an assurance that an impartial review against established criteria or guidelines has been conducted and the product complies with them.
NSF issues quality certificates on following parameters:
NSF/ANSI 42: Drinking Water Treatment Units – Aesthetic Effects
It establishes the minimum requirements for the certification of POU/POE filtration systems designed to reduce specific aesthetic or non-health-related contaminants (chlorine, taste, odor and particulates) that may be present in public or private drinking water.
The scope of NSF/ANSU 42 includes material safety, structural integrity and aesthetic, non-health related contaminant reduction performance claims. The most common technology addressed by this standard is carbon filtration.
NSF/ANSI 53: Drinking Water Treatment Units - Health Effects
NSF/ANSI 53 establishes the minimum requirements for the certification of POU/POE filtration systems designed to reduce specific health-related contaminants, such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, lead, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether), that may be present in public or private drinking water.
The scope of NSF/ANSI 53 includes material safety, structural integrity and health-related contaminant reduction performance claims. The most common technology addressed by this standard is carbon filtration.
NSF/ANSI 55: Ultraviolet Microbiological Water Treatment Systems
NSF/ANSI 55 establishes the minimum requirements for the certification of point-of-use/point-of-entry (POU/POE) ultraviolet (UV) systems and includes two optional classifications:
Class A systems (40 mJ/cm2) are designed to disinfect and/or remove microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses, from contaminated water to a safe level. Class A systems may claim to disinfect water that may be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, viruses, Cryptosporidium or Giardia.
Class B systems (16 mJ/cm2) are designed for supplemental bactericidal treatment of public or other drinking water that has been deemed acceptable by a local health agency. Class B systems may claim to reduce normally occurring nuisance microorganisms.
NSF/ANSI 58: Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Treatment Systems
NSF/ANSI 58 establishes the minimum requirements for the certification of point-of-use (POU) reverse osmosis systems designed to reduce contaminants that may be present in public or private drinking water.
The scope of NSF/ANSI 58 includes material safety, structural integrity, total dissolved solids (TDS) reduction and other optional contaminant reduction claims. The most common optional claims addressed by NSF/ANSI 58 include cyst reduction, hexavalent and trivalent chromium reduction, arsenic reduction, nitrate/nitrite reduction, and cadmium and lead reduction.
NSF P231: Microbiological Water Purifiers Protocol
It establishes minimum requirements for health and sanitation characteristics of microbiological water purifiers. The requirements are based on the recommendations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Task Force Report, Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Water Purifiers.
ISO – The International Organization for Standardization (https://www.iso.org/iso/iso_and_water.pdf)
ISO is an independent, non-governmental organization forming a global network of national standards bodies with one member per country. Their purpose is to make international standards covering almost every water issue, from pipes and irrigation to water quality, management and sanitation. Economic, environmental and societal dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals are directly addressed by the ISO standards. ISO has identified the standards that make the most significant contribution to each SDG. Out of a total of more than 21300 International Standards, ISO has more than 1200 related to water, with many more in development.
ISO issues quality certificates on following parameters:
ISO has nearly 300 standards for water quality, applicable to everything from plant treatment agents to natural mineral waters. They provide a common terminology, water sampling methods and guidance on reporting and monitoring to determine a variety of properties and contaminants, from mineral content to the level of bacteria and impurities.
ISO 14046, Environmental management – Water footprint – Principles, requirements and guidelines, is designed to help organizations estimate the potential impact of their water use, thereby facilitating ways to improve efficiency and reduce overall consumption. This has been developed by experts from all over the world and can have a positive impact by providing a harmonized framework for the quantification and reporting of carbon footprints.
BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) (http://cgwb.gov.in/Documents/WQ-standards.pdf)
BIS is a statutory institution established under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986 to promote harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods and attending to connected matters in the country.
BIS issues quality certificates on following parameters:
IS 10500:2012 – Drinking Water
This standard prescribes the requirements and the methods of sampling and test for drinking water. It assures that the water is free from coliform, pesticide residues and chemical contaminants and can be consumed directly. Almost all good quality water purifiers have this certification irrespective of the process of purification followed.
IS 16240: 2015 - Reverse Osmosis (RO) based Point -of-Use (POU) Water Treatment System
This standard covers Reverse Osmosis (RO) based Point-of Use (POU) water treatment system with a capacity of upto25 litres per hour that reduces TDS of water, reduces chemical contamination to safe level and removes physical particles including microbiological impurities. It also covers the testing of materials that come in contact with water for their safety. This standard covers terminology, constructional features, materials required, performance requirements, routine pressure test (pneumatic test), test requirements etc. This standard does not cover consumables such as filters and media.
IS 7402: 2011 - Ceramic water purifier filter candles — specification (http://www.questin.org/sites/default/files/standards/is.7402.2011_0.pdf)
This standard prescribes the requirements and methods of sampling and test for ceramic water purifier filter candles. It also points towards the presence of a silver filter cap that has the highest germicidal capabilities.
This standard covers water-purifiers employing ultra-violet (UV) radiation for disinfection of water. The purifier is expected to give water born pathogen free water, safe and suitable for human consumption. These purifiers are hence suitable for domestic use, for use in offices and places of public gatherings. The water obtained from the purifier is not exactly the distilled water. It cannot hence be used where only distilled water is specified.
Look for the Certification Mark
The certifications ensure that the product complies with the standards that have been developed by the international certifying organizations with the help of industry experts, scientists, engineers, public health professionals etc. A product with the Third-Party certification is reliable and validates the authenticity of the manufacturer. Consumers can rely on these certifications as they also form a foundation on which public policies addressing the various water-related challenges are framed. Choosing a product becomes easier when its quality is assured by the established certifying authorities.
Thanks to the poor water quality, consumers are increasingly on the lookout to buy an ideal water purifier for their homes. The flood of various water purifier brands in the market has made it complicated to choose the best among them. It is important to identify the type of certification mark on the purifiers before making a purchase because this decision would impact your family’s health in particular and environment in general.
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