UV systems provide fast-acting, environmentally responsible water disinfection, making them an attractive alternative to chemical water disinfection.
As use of UV water disinfection systems grows, there is an important question to answer: how do end users know that a system is safe to use?
Navigating the certification environment
Given the importance of safe water and the risks posed by unsafe water, it is surprising that neither Canada nor the United States have federal regulations for UV water disinfection in residential settings.
However, the lack of mandatory standards does not mean there are no standards. For example, NSF International, a globally recognized organization that develops public health standards
and certification programs, has created a set of voluntary standards for UV water disinfection technology designed for home use.
There are different NSF standards depending on the function, size, and end use of a product, but they are all intended to ensure safety and protect human health. While not required by law, many manufacturers of UV water disinfection products pursue NSF certification to show that their systems meet these minimum performance and safety standards.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is another source of standards for UV water disinfection covering both potable water and wastewater, although its focus is on public water applications rather than residential use. While the EPA is a US government body, its standards are nonetheless recognized worldwide.
Understanding the certification process
With end users placing their trust in certification, the testing process is understandably rigorous.
Broadly speaking, these are the key elements of the procedure for attaining certification:
- The manufacturer submits its UV water disinfection product and detailed documentation to a testing lab.
- Professionals at the lab thoroughly review the documentation to gain a full understanding of how the product is designed and works, including all underlying technology and any functional constraints.
- They then systematically test the product to ensure alignment between the documentation and actual construction and performance. This includes measuring performance against minimum standards – for example, consistent delivery of a minimum UV dose.
- The lab also carries out an inspection of the manufacturer’s production facilities to ensure they are up to standard.
- If the lab determines at the end of this process that the product meets all requirements for certification, the manufacturer is granted permission to identify the product as certified for that specific standard.
With safety the main priority, regular retesting and production facility inspections are required for a product to maintain its certification. In addition, re-certification is required any time a manufacturer makes changes to a product, and each model of a given product must be certified separately.
For NSF certification, testing can be carried out either in an NSF International lab or in other third-party labs that offer testing and reporting based on NSF standards. Meanwhile, the EPA does not offer its own testing services, so all testing to meet EPA standards is carried out by third-party labs.
Recognizing the value of third-party certification
Whether you’re an engineer, homeowner, or procurement specialist, third-party certification can help you make an informed decision when purchasing a UV water disinfection system. Safety and reliability are essential no matter where you intend to use this technology, and certification based on recognized industry standards offers peace of mind that these requirements will be met.
UV disinfection systems intended for use at a public or commercial site (e.g. hospital, campground, hotel, etc.) generally require certification. In these settings, certification is essential for protecting public health, meeting compliance obligations, and managing liability.
For residential use, the choice between certified and non-certified systems comes down to personal preference. While non-certified systems may come with a lower price tag as they can forgo the rigorous yet costly certification process, it is up to the individual end user to balance this against safety and reliability considerations.
Maintaining high standards at UV Pure
At UV Pure, safe water is our top priority. This commitment is reflected in our adherence to globally recognized safety and technology standards, with most of our UV water disinfection products carrying NSF or EPA certifications.
While we do offer non-certified products as well, these are made to the same high performance standards as our certified products, and any differences are limited to non-core features.
When human health is on the line, there is no room for doubt. Fortunately, NSF and EPA certifications for UV water disinfection systems set the bar high, giving individuals and organizations around the world confidence that their water is safe to use.