A recent investigative article, “Fake Filters? Companies falsely claim to have prestigious water safety certification” examined the water treatment industry with an eye toward counterfeit or misleading water treatment product claims.

Water contamination issues have gained greater awareness in recent years, such as in Brady, Texas, home to more than 400 violations for excessive radium contamination, and in Flint, Michigan, where there still remains massive lead contamination. People across the country have had to quickly educate themselves on water contamination and water filtration to protect their water and their health.

Because of this, more people have learned about NSF International and the power and importance of NSF certification. More people have learned to recognize NSF certification as a sign of trust when it comes to effective water filtration.

Unfortunately, concerned people are not the only ones that understand the importance of NSF. Less-than-scrupulous companies are using this knowledge to take advantage of the NSF seal to garner unearned trust in their products and companies. According to the aforementioned article, in 2018, more than 30 of the 72 total NSF seal violations occurred due to water-related products and filters – products that have appeared on major vendor outlets such as Amazon, Home Depot, and eBay. Unfortunately, these products may fraudulently sport the NSF seal, but it is the customers who will suffer due to products made of substandard materials, faulty construction, or simply may not perform according to their claims.

Other companies skirt the line of legitimacy, using statements like “certified to NSF standards” or “tested according to NSF standards” without outright claiming NSF certification. This lends an air of integrity, despite failing to undergo actual testing and certification by NSF. True NSF certification demands rigorous testing of materials, construction, assembly, and performance, at all stages of the process, and with regular random follow-up inspections. Any company can test “according to NSF standards,” but unless performed by NSF itself, there is no proof that the testing is as valid or as rigorous as actual NSF certification. Fortunately, anyone can check to see if a product is actually NSF-certified by visiting the NSF website at www.nsf.org and looking up the product listing and details of the certification.

Any company can test “according to NSF standards,” but unless performed by NSF itself, there is no proof that the testing is as valid or as rigorous as actual NSF certification. 

Another interesting aspect of NSF certification is that not all certifications are created equal. Certain products may legitimately claim the same NSF certification, but not the same performance!

For example, Product A is certified for the treatment of lead (and only lead) in drinking water under NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for Health Effects. Product B holds the same NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certification, but treats not only lead, but also arsenic V, asbestos, VOCs, MTBE, and PFOAs. And yet both products can (and most likely would) proudly claim NSF Standard 53 certification.

This means that it is not enough to simply verify actual NSF certification; it is equally – if not more – important to learn and understand the details of that NSF certification, especially when it comes to comparison shopping.

This is one of the reasons why Multipure so often stresses the broad, comprehensive contaminant reduction performance of our NSF-certified drinking water systems. Because we not only have NSF-tested and certified products, but also have certifications that cover a vast array of contaminants.

For example, here is a list of health contaminants treated by a popular NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certified water filter on the market:

  • Atrazine
  • Cyst 
  • Lindane 

Now, here is a list of health contaminants treated by Multipure’s NSF-certified Aqualuxe under NSF/ANSI Standard 53:

  • Arsenic V 
  • Asbestos 
  • Chlordane
  • Cyst 
  • Lead
  • Mercury 
  • MTBE 
  • PCB 
  • Radon 
  • Toxaphene 
  • Turbidity 
  • VOC 
  • Microcystin 
  • PFOA 
  • PFOS 

As you can see, two different products, each one with valid NSF certification under NSF/ANSI Standard 53. But both vastly different in ability and performance.

Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to perform their due diligence when it comes to product performance claims. Fortunately, the resources exist to ensure that the water treatment products you need to protect your water and your health are not only NSF-certified, but also treat the array of contaminants necessary to ensure the quality and safety of your water.