What is NSF-61?

NSF-61 is a set of regulations that covers products that come in contact with drinking water in the USA including pipes, hoses, fittings, gaskets, adhesives, coatings, lubricants, faucets, drinking fountains, filters, water meters, valves, filters, and more.

Basically, if it comes in contact with potable water, NSF-61 verifies that it is safe.

Why is this important? Flint, MI provides a cautionary tale of what can happen when unsafe products come in contact with drinking water.


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An Unsafe Drinking Water Catastrophe

In 2014, Flint changed its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Insufficient water treatment caused lead from old and unsafe water pipes to leach into the water delivered to local homes and businesses. The lead pipes in Flint were installed many years before water-safety regulations restricted their use, but the problems didn’t affect citizens until the water source and water treatment changes. Current estimates for fixing these problems range as high as $1,500,000,000.

NSF-61 helps prevent such disasters by ensuring that all components of the water system are certified safe for contact with potable water, preserving the quality and safety of drinking water.

NSF-61 Certification: Good For Water Systems, Good For Citizens

NSF-61 certification has broad benefits for both water systems and consumers. Residents can have peace of mind that the water coming out of their tap is safe to drink.

These regulations are also good for water systems. NSF-61 provides a universally accepted, 3rd-party verification that the pipes, gaskets, and meters utilized for water delivery are drinking water safe. This minimizes the liability faced by water systems and decreases the likelihood of costly repairs and updates in the future. NSF-61 certified components can cost a little more on the front end, but water systems recoup this investment by eliminating the need to dig up pipe to repair or replace sub-standard and unsafe components.

Implementation Varies by State

While NSF-61 is a nationwide certification, implementation can vary from state to state. For example, Alabama recently expanded its NSF-61 requirements to include all gaskets, including water meter gaskets. This bridged a critical gap in coverage that could have allowed unsafe gaskets to leach chemicals into the water delivered to homes.

Visit our NSF-61 interactive map to find out more about implementation in your state.
NSF-61 guidelines provide a standard that can be used for all water system components nationwide, even in areas where certification is not required. Water system engineers and managers can avoid costly repairs and uncomfortable questions by utilizing the NSF-61 framework to guide purchasing decisions. This provides a 3rd party verification that best practices were followed, certifying that the water system did all that it could to protect its citizens.

Certification vs. Compliance

NSF-61 Certification is expensive for manufacturers. Some manufacturers choose to claim “NSF-61 compliance” rather than “NSF-61 certification”. This means that they are claiming to follow NSF-61 practices without submitting to the 3rd party certification. Many water systems don’t know the difference, causing them to purchase products that lack the 3rd party verification that is so helpful when questions arise.

How can you tell the difference? Look for the NSF logo or specific NSF markings on any products utilized by your water system.

Which Products are Certified?

It is important to note that some manufacturers certify a few of their products rather than all of them. This allows them to talk boldly about NSF-61 certification in its materials. The problem is that products are NSF-61 certified, not companies. EVERY PRODUCT must be submitted for NSF-61 certification.

Be careful to check the NSF-61 status of every individual part that comes in contact with drinking water to avoid deceptive descriptions from manufacturers and protect your water system from future consumer questions.

Gaskets from Alabama

Specification Rubber Products manufactures gaskets in Alabaster, AL. All of our products are 100% NSF-61 compliant and 100% made in the USA. Would you like to find out more about how NSF-61 affects your water system? Contact us today at 1-800-633-3415!


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