One of the most important things you can do to ensure the quality of your water is to install a drinking water filtration system in your home. A good drinking water system will not only enhance the taste and smell of your water, but also protect you from a host of potentially harmful contaminants in your water, including things like lead, asbestos, PFAS, trihalomethanes, pharmaceuticals, and microbial contaminants. But, even when consumers know which contaminants they need to treat with their water filter, with so many brands of filters and systems on the market, they are often left unsure how to find the product they can rely on to meet their needs.
The solution to this issue is third party certification. Certification means that a given drinking water system has been tested and verified for contaminant reduction, with official documentation presented attesting to its performance claims. Third party certification means that the testing and verification entity is wholly independent from the manufacturer of the tested product, and therefore has no vested interest in the success or failure of the item in question. Third party testing and certification provides an impartial report of crucial performance indicators, including:
- A list of specific contaminants reduced by the system
- A measure of the reduction performance of the system on each contaminant
- The filtration capacity of the system
- The effective water flow rate through the system
- That all product literature is consistent with the testing results
In addition, respected third party certification bodies such as NSF International, WQA, or IAPMO will also verify the safety of the materials used to make the product and evaluate the structural integrity of the filtration product. Certifications can be verified through literature review and by facility and product tests.
At Multipure, our products are tested and certified by NSF International, an established global authority who have worked for over 75 years toward the certification of product performance relating to public health standards. NSF certification is a rigorous and ongoing testing process, and it requires that products be reevaluated and recertified every five years. NSF testing requires that Multipure’s systems be evaluated through their maximum capacity (and not just through a small sample of a filter’s capacity), and that all materials and information connected to the tested product be completely accurate and up to date.
You should understand that testing and certification mean two different things when it comes to the trustworthiness of a product’s performance. As mentioned before, certification typically means that a product’s performance has been tested and verified by a third party. The testing and certification results are published with official documentation and a seal of approval from the certification organization. Certification and testing results can be viewed from the certification organization as further proof of their veracity; furthermore, states such as California require NSF certification to sell that product in the state if the product details any performance claims.
On the other hand, testing simply means that a product’s performance has been tested and measured, generally either in a laboratory or in real world usage. However, many companies will use the term testing or phrases like “tested by an outside laboratory” as a method to promote the trustworthiness of their performance claims. But, without actual certification by an independent entity, performance claims cannot be taken at face value. Some companies may even claim certification, but do not supply the name of the laboratory or certification agency. Without that information, and without certification testing results and documentation, there is no verifiable proof to back up their certification claims.
A more subtle, yet still misleading, tactic is to limit and control product testing. Some companies will test a water filtration product for a small fraction of its stated capacity, and at a small fraction of its rated flow rate. These companies then promote the “tested and verified” results of such testing, implying that the small and controlled testing sample is the same for the full product; in actuality, without a test of the maximum filter capacity at real-world flow rates, such results are inaccurate for real world usage. Because no regulations exist to prevent this practice, it is up to the consumer to protect themselves by gaining the knowledge to determine real from fake or manufactured claims.
Another example of misleading performance claims occurs with loopholes in product classification. For example, a company is allowed to classify a product as a water purifier if the product can remove 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.99% of viruses from the water. But, because this classification does not consider filter capacity, many companies will boldly proclaim their water purification capabilities without stating the water purification capacity of their products. In some cases, water purification ability may even be limited to only one gallon of water upon testing!
The key to the trustworthiness of a water filtration product lies in accountability. Third party, independent testing and certification provides an impartial examination and publication of a product’s performance capabilities. This subsequently allows any consumer to find and view these certified results to verify the product’s claims with their own eyes. Documented results and verifiable claims show that a company holds itself and its products as transparent and accountable to the consumer. Any company with certified performance should be proud of that fact, and it should be easy to find and view on their website and literature. Certification is a sure sign of trustworthy performance.