Water Quality Standards and Certifications Guide

Posted by
John Woodard on September 27, 2018

You’ve probably noticed water standard and certification badges scattered throughout our site and printed on water treatment products. Water quality standards and certifications are determined by organizations like the EPA, NSF, WQA, and FDA. Unless you know what each acronym and standard number means, the special seals hold little significance. So, here’s a guide to give clarity on the regulations that guarantee the safety of your drinking water.

WQA Certification

Water Quality Association 

The WQA educates on water quality and test products used to treat water before it enters a home or business. The WQA issues two types of certification: product and professional.

  • The WQA Gold Seal guarantees a product is safe, high-quality, and durable after testing.
  • The WQA offers professional certification for those who demonstrate water treatment expertise. Core certification requires a full year of study and hands-on learning. In additions to understanding what products are used for, Master Water Specialists understand how the products are used.

At Fresh Water Systems, we require each member of our guest services team to obtain WQA certification within their first year of employment. Our team of water experts includes Certified Water Treatment Representatives, Certified Water Specialists, and Master Water Specialists.

WQA Certification Examples  

NSF Certification


NSF International: The Public Health and Safety Organization

The NSF began as the National Sanitation Foundation to test soda fountains and food equipment. Today, they test point-of-use (POU) or point-of-entry (POE) drinking water treatment equipment according to their standards. Each NSF standard sets thorough health requirements and performance criteria for specific types of products. Other organizations use the testing protocols established by NSF to certify water filtration equipment.

The strict standards set by NSF allow you to take safe food and water for granted. NSF conducts regular inspections for products to maintain their certification. The NSF mark proves that products have been tested and that the organization and professionals selling those products are committed to human health and safety.

Our most common NSF standards


Drinking water treatment units - aesthetic effects

Standards for point-of-use (POU) or point-of entry (POE) filtration systems designed to reduce specific aesthetic or non-health-related contaminants (chlorine, taste, odor and particulates) present in public or private drinking water


Cation exchange water softeners

Standards for residential cation exchange water softeners designed to reduce hardness from public or private water supplies


Drinking water treatment units - health effects

Standards for POU/POE filtration systems designed to reduce specific health-related contaminants, such as cryptosporidium, giardia, lead, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), and MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether) present in public or private drinking water


Ultraviolet Microbiological Water Treatment Systems

Standards for POU/POE ultraviolet (UV) systems, which includes two optional classifications:

Class A systems (40 mJ/cm2)
Designed to disinfect and/or remove microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses, from contaminated water

Class B systems (16 mJ/cm2)
Designed for supplemental bactericidal treatment of public or other drinking water deemed acceptable by a local health agency


Reverse osmosis (RO) systems

Standards for POU RO systems designed to reduce contaminants present in public or private drinking water


Drinking water system components

Standards for all water treatment products, including plumbing fittings, filter media, water faucets, and water meters in contact with drinking water, manufactured, sold, or distributed in North America


Drinking water distillation systems

Standards for POU/POE distillation systems in terms of material safety, structural integrity, product literature review, and total dissolved solids (TDS) and contaminant reduction in public and private water supplies


Shower filtration systems - aesthetic effects

Standards for the safety and performance of shower filtration products


EPA Certification 

Epa Logo

United States Environmental Protection Agency 

The EPA is a government organization that conducts scientific research to establish regulations that help sustain the environment. The EPA issued the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to protect the quality of drinking water in America and to regulate and monitor contaminant levels in water. National Primary Drinking Water Regulations ensure that hazardous contaminants fall below a certain measurement. Equipment used to disinfect water of bacteria must be registered through the EPA as a pesticide.

IAPMO R&T Certification 

IAPMO R&T Certification

The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) tests water systems and other plumbing and mechanical products to guarantee the quality and safely. IAPMO has been certifying water products in North America longer than any other organization. The platinum seal signifies that a product has been tested by industry experts, giving companies and consumers alike peace of mind.

Other IAPMO certifications

FDA Approval

Food and Drug Administration 

The FDA, like the EPA, ensures water safety. The EPA, however regulates the health of the public water supply, while the FDA regulates manufacturing processes for bottled water. FDA approval guarantees that bottled water has been tested and guaranteed safe and free of contaminants. Any added flavors or nutrients in bottled water must also abide by FDA standards.


BPA-FREE Filtration


Plastic does not contain bisphenol-A (BPA). The chemical is added to plastic bottles and food packaging to make them rigid rather than flimsy. The FDA declared BPA safe after assessment; however, BPA may mix with food and drinking water and negatively affect hormone levels, fetal and child development, and reproduction. To avoid BPA use glass containers, cartons, or BPA-free plastic containers with the label 1,2, or 5.

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