NSF Adds New Standard For Reduction of Pharmaceuticals and Unregulated Contaminants from Drinking Water

There’s some interesting news from NSF, the outfit that certifies water treatment devices for removal of certain contaminants. In a press release issued on August 26, 2014, NSF said the following:

“NSF has certified 56 products to NSF/ANSI 401 at varying levels, providing home water treatment options to consumers concerned about these contaminants. NSF International has developed the first American National Standard that validates the effectiveness of water treatment devices that are designed to reduce trace levels of emerging contaminants in drinking water. The standard, named NSF/ANSI 401: Drinking Water Treatment Units – Emerging Compounds/Incidental Contaminants, addresses the ability of a water treatment device to remove up to 15 contaminants from drinking water. Types of contaminants include some pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medications, herbicides, pesticides and chemicals used in manufacturing such as bisphenol A (BPA).”

You may see the entire release here:

http://www.nsf.org/newsroom – link is broken

While the addition of this certification is good news for consumers, I have great concerns about this comment contained in the NSF press release:

While not a public health issue, the contaminants covered in NSF/ANSI 401 have been detected in drinking water supplies at trace levels and can affect some consumers’ perception of drinking water quality. In fact, an independent survey conducted on behalf of NSF International indicated that 63 percent of Americans are concerned about pharmaceuticals and other contaminants in their drinking water.

The new standard sets requirements for water treatment and filtration devices that reduce up to 15 individual contaminants, which have been identified in published studies as occurring in drinking water.”

Trace amount of pharmaceuticals in drinking water, in my opinion, are a huge concern for public health. Please note this study from an Italian researcher who found that trace levels of these same compounds at levels found in drinking water do affect human cell function:


This study provides definitive proof that trace amounts of unregulated contaminants affect human cell function.

Back to the new NSF certification: I’ve requested information to try to determine what it is in these filters that is capturing these contaminants within the filter itself. When I do I’ll be sure to report in this space. I also want to know what ‘reduce’ means. Are these filters eliminating these contaminants or not. The NSF press release seems vague on that point.

In the meantime I will continue to rely on another study, done by the Rocky Mountain School of Mines, that shows that reverse osmosis (RO) removes these contaminants. “Nano-filtration and reverse osmosis eliminated all drugs tested”:


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About James McMahon

Studied ecology at the University of Illinois, mountain survival at Eastern Washing University, Deep Ecology at Naropa, River Ecology with The Nature Conservancy and Luna Leopold
This entry was posted in Best Water Filter, Exposure to Toxins, Healthy Drinking Water, Healthy Living, Reverse Osmosis. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to NSF Adds New Standard For Reduction of Pharmaceuticals and Unregulated Contaminants from Drinking Water

  1. Jon says:

    what whole house well filters meet this standard?

    • James McMahon says:

      None – For full fledged protection I recommend a combination of my Urban Defender whole house water filter followed by UV ligth for the whole house plus my custom reverse osmosis system in your kitchen. check out my website.

  2. Pingback: NSF Certification of Water Purification Systems is misleadingBest Water Purification Blog by Sweetwater LLC

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