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Updates to the American National Standards Institute’s Standards 53 and 58 now require drinking water treatment units to reduce the lead in drinking water five parts per billion (ppb) or less. This represents a 50 per cent decrease from the previous 10 ppb. The updates were published in December and are effective immediately for any new filter or filtration device claiming to reduce lead. They create harmony between ANSI and Health Canada’s new 5 ppb maximum, which in this case was established first. The new lead pass/fail criteria affects NSF/ANSI 53: Drinking Water Treatment Units – Health Effects and NSF/ANSI 58: Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Treatment Systems.

The ANSI Drinking Water Treatment Units Joint Committee is comprised of stakeholders representing consumers, the water industry, and state and federal health and environmental agencies in the U.S. and Canada.

“Lead contamination of drinking water remains a critical issue, and regulations continue to be put into action to reduce the allowable level of lead in drinking water,” said Jessica Evans, director of standards development at NSF International. “Establishing this new pass/fail criterion of five ppb for NSF/ANSI 53 and NSF/ANSI 58 will further limit health risks associated with lead ingestion and provide an additional measure of public health protection.”

The World Health Organization and other public health organizations have concluded there is no safe level of lead, and that even low concentrations can cause adverse health effects, especially for children. Plumbing & HVAC magazine noted in January that that the primary source of lead in drinking water remains the use of lead pipe or lead-containing alloys in supply lines fixtures, fittings and solder.