As water restrictions tighten and energy costs rise, the pool and spa industry is innovating with improvements to existing products, along with the creation of exciting new technologies.
With so many new products entering the market, how can end users be sure their purchases perform as claimed?
Regulations, pool and spa codes, and specific design specifications require compliance with NSF/ANSI 50 and other performance and safety standards. Third-party certification is the best method to ensure products meet these minimum requirements. With new and emerging technologies, a specific, stand-alone standard may not exist to provide minimum health, performance and safety requirements for every product on the market. How can it be determined if these new products are acceptable for use? With the addition of requirements into an existing standard.
The scope of NSF/ANSI 50 is broad enough to cover almost any product used in a recreational water facility. NSF/ANSI 50 currently has product-specific sections ranging from pumps and filters to large process equipment such as UV systems and chlorinators. In order to accommodate new technologies without product-specific requirements, new sections can be created, balloted for approval and added through the standards-development process.
NSF/ANSI 50 is a consensus standard with equal voting representation from three key groups: public health officials, manufacturers and users. Eleven members from each of the three make up the NSF/ANSI 50 Joint Committee. Voting is restricted to Joint Committee members, but all standards work is public. Anyone can observe, comment or take part in the standards-development process.
Whether the goal is to create a new section or modify an existing one, NSF/ANSI 50 can be updated by presenting an issue paper stating the requested change and providing background information to the NSF/ANSI 50 Joint Committee. The issue paper does not need to be created by a member of the Joint Committee. Once presented, the committee votes to add the change to NSF/ANSI 50, sends it to a task group for additional refinement or tables the topic. If a change is approved, it is added to NSF/ANSI 50, which is then republished.
Once a new section is added to NSF/ANSI 50, covered products can begin to be certified against those requirements and bear the certification mark of their third-part certifier. Any state and local codes and regulations also can be updated to require products to meet the new certification standard.
The current edition of NSF/ANSI 50 has 18 product-specific sections. In the past few years, examples of product additions to NSF/ANSI 50 include water quality test devices (WQTD), heat exchangers, solar water heating systems and pool and spa treatment chemicals.
NSF/ANSI 50 can be updated quickly, but creating a new product section can take a year or more. In some instances, a product or technology not covered in NSF/ANSI 50 requires certification sooner than that. In these cases, NSF International can create a guidance document for certification, known as a component certification specification (CCS). Flow meters started as a CCS and now are added to NSF/ANSI 50.
The created component certification specification includes material, safety and performance criteria, and acts as a stand-in product-specific section of NSF/ANSI 50. Because the CCS is aimed at being a product section of NSF/ANSI 50, it is more general to a technology and not specific to a particular model. NSF is able to evaluate and certify products to the created component certification specification. Products certified to a CCS can bear the NSF mark on the product. The CCS is made publicly available on the NSF online listings directory (www.nsf.org) once a product is certified. Any product covered by the scope of the CCS can be certified against it.
NSF policies require that any component certification specification be submitted for addition to NSF/ANSI 50 within two years of its publication.
Once the CCS is submitted, the NSF/ANSI 50 Joint Committee may send it to a task group for further review or modifications. If the CCS is adopted into NSF/ANSI 50, it is no longer supported after an implementation period. That means products certified to the CCS must be evaluated against the requirements in NSF/ANSI 50, which may or may not have changed.
If a component certification specification is rejected and fails to be added to NSF/ANSI 50, NSF International will continue to support the specification — and products can continue to be certified to its requirements.
Several product types have gone through the component certification specification process. Two examples are gas injection systems and flow meters. NSF/ANSI 50 has requirements for ozone generators, but not products used to dose or inject other gases used in pool applications. To certify non-ozone gas systems, NSF created CCS #14530. Currently, two products are certified to the CCS #14530 requirements. The CCS will be submitted for ballot to NSF/ANSI 50 within two years of publication.
The second example is flow meters. The current version of the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) requires that flow meters be third-party certified to NSF/ANSI 50. The 2015 and earlier versions of NSF/ANSI 50 did not have a section for flow meters. The 2016 issue of NSF/ANSI 50 includes a new section on flow meters.
The need for certification is evident in the many state requirements as well as the industry codes such as the MAHC. Providing a path for manufacturers and industry to show the compliance, safety and efficacy of their products is critical for health officials, regulators and the safety of public bathers. The creation of component certification specifications by NSF International and consensus additions to NSF/ANSI 50 are effective for providing that verification.