by Emily Terrill

Since its founding, NSF International has become one of the most trusted names in public health, writing national standards and testing and certifying products to help ensure the safety of food and drinking water, dietary supplements and consumer goods. Widely recognized for its scientific and technical expertise, NSF is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Food Safety, Water Quality and Indoor Environment.

NSF was founded as the National Sanitation Foundation in 1944 by Walter Snyder, Henry Vaughan and Nathan Sinai at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. The three saw a need to standardize the health requirements for commercial foodservice equipment. A transparent, consensus-based process was used to develop the first standards for soda fountains and luncheonette equipment and became the process by which NSF developed other standards. NSF also provides auditing, consulting and education services.

As services expanded into global markets in 1990, the name was changed to NSF International. The letters NSF do not represent any specific words today. To date, NSF has developed more than 90 public health and safety American National Standards and over 30 protocols for appliances, food equipment, drinking water filters and other products. NSF employs more than 1,700 microbiologists, toxicologists, chemists, engineers, and environmental and public health professionals.

In 1960, the pool, spa and hot tub products certification program began. It includes filters, drain covers, pumps and disinfection equipment and other products. Our certification program includes laboratory testing for design, construction and/or performance, along with audits of production facilities, to verify ongoing compliance with applicable American National or international standards. The NSF certification mark on a pool, spa or hot tub component means that the product was reviewed and certified by NSF International to meet these standards.

In 1977, NSF combined all of its pool and spa related product standards into one all-encompassing standard: NSF/ANSI 50: Equipment for Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs and Other Recreational Water Facilities. The standard continues to be revised, adding new product types and technologies on an annual basis. Changes are made by a voting group of public health officials, product users and product manufacturers. Currently, 28 U.S. states have swimming pool and spa regulatory codes that specifically require compliance or third-party certification of circulation system components to NSF/ANSI 50. Many counties and cities across the United States also have pool and spa codes that require compliance to NSF/ANSI 50.

NSF/ANSI 50 applies to:

• Filters (granular, diatomite/precoat and cartridge)

• Filter media

• Fittings

• Skimmers

• Pumps

• Valves

• Swim spas, factory made or field-installed portable spas

• Suction fittings/main drains

• Pool alarms

• Pool/spa covers and safety fencing

• Safety vacuum release systems (SVRS)

• Flexible pool/spa hose

• Chemical feeding equipment

• Automatic controllers

• Pool and spa water quality testing devices

• Chlorinators and brominators (both electrolytic in-line and brine/batch types)

• UV systems

• Ozone generators

• Energy efficiency testing

To facilitate industry adoption of new technologies, NSF incorporates other standards, as appropriate, into its evaluation criteria for pool and spa type products that don’t currently have detailed testing criteria within NSF/ANSI 50. Through this process, NSF is able to offer third-party testing and certification services to meet the needs of manufacturers, users and public health officials. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act requires certification to NSF/ANSI 16: Standard Suction Fittings for Use in Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs. NSF certification of pool drains, suction fittings and grates to NSF/ANSI 16 and NSF/ANSI 50: Equipment for Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs and Other Recreational Water Facilities helps ensure product compliance.

The NSF mark, respected by public health officials, retailers and consumers, is recognized as a symbol of product quality and integrity.

Written by Emily Terrill, marketing coordinator, NSF International Water Systems