NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) was founded in 1944 to standardize sanitation and food safety requirements. Today, it has evolved into an accredited, independent third party certification body that tests and certifies products to verify that they meet public health and safety standards. The NSF is made up of many different divisions covering a wide range of topics, including the Water Division which covers swimming pools and spas.
Third party certification helps both the consumers as well as the manufacturers by reviewing certain processes and establishing standards and guidelines to ensure that a product complies with specific standards for safety, quality and performance. It makes for a level playing field for all parties involved.
In the swimming pool industry specifically, there have been many changes to local codes and national codes and standards over the years. In addition, new products are introduced daily claiming to be the “next best thing” for your pool. The NSF has modified itself to also keep up with these evolving codes and ever changing technologies that come to the market place. All products should certainly be held to the standards of the NSF at a minimum. If they pass the approval of NSF, they will proudly display that on their label.
Some of the major milestones that have affected UV systems in the swimming pool industry include:
NSF 2001: This called for disinfection efficacy for Enterococcus faecium and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. At the time, it seemed appropriate for pools. But with chlorine based chemicals used as primary sanitizers, certain bugs became more and more chlorine resistant causing the NSF to change their standard.
NSF 2010: This increased the standard to include the inactivation of Cryptosporidium as well as the dose determination that is required to complete this process. UV is based primarily on a dosing system, similar to that of the medical profession. There is a certain dose of antibiotics that is needed for certain infections. Just like a doctor carefully calculates the right medication and dosage to treat an illness, there is a specific science behind the dosing of UV. A dose of 12 mJ/cm2 is needed to achieve a 3 log reduction of Crypto, but that same dose is ineffective against HIV for example. So a standard had to be implemented by NSF for the UV systems.
NSF 2012: This standard took the UV a final step to include life testing, operating temperature, cleanability, design pressure, flowmeter, performance indication, operation and installation instructions, drawings and parts lists, disinfection efficacy, as well as valve and component identification.
As you can see by the changes in the NSF guidelines, there will certainly be more to follow in the coming years. We as aquatics professionals need to be aware of these changes and keep our customers educated to the best of our ability. The more we can educate our customers, the easier it will be to stay ahead of these changes.