Critical Evaluation of the NSF 61 Section 9 Test Water for Lead

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Standard 61, developed by NSF International and the American National Standards Institute, is intended to protect the public from potential adverse health effects from products in contact with drinking water. This research evaluated the Section 9 protocol of the standard from the perspective of test water chemistry and propensity to leach lead. Results indicated that the Section 9 test, which determines which products receive certification, could be improved to more closely simulate real-world aggressive water conditions. Under the existing protocol, plumbing products that meet NSF certification requirements for lead may still cause problems for water providers trying to comply with the US Environmental Protection Agency Lead and Copper Rule. The first laboratory study aimed at assessing the potential limitations of the Section 9 test, this work provides much-needed insight into the test protocol and the resulting certification of products and also proposes modifications that would make the test more protective of public health.

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