Significant Changes Coming for Potable Water Protective Coatings – NSF Certification


DURATION 3 minute read

The National Sanitation Foundation (NFS) is an organization that helps develop standards and certification programs to help protect the world’s food, water, consumer products, and environment. One of the criteria that is closely monitored by the TCEQ and AWWA, and implemented into our designs, address the human health effects of drinking water system components. Compliance for protective coatings in potable water facilities is designated under NSF 61 standards. All protective coatings in contact with potable water shall bear the NSF 61 certification.

The NSF recently updated its standards to require all coatings in contact with potable water to meet lower extraction levels, per the NSF/ANSI/CAN 61: Drinking Water System Components – Health Effects Standards (NSF 61). NSF already has these recommended changes in the current standards but has given the coating industry until January 1, 2023, to prepare new products to integrate into the new regulations.


Changes to NSF 61/ NSF 600

NSF tests all protective coatings that request certification by administering tests to the products for varying requirements. One of the performance-based evaluations is to determine the level of contaminants that leach from products into drinking water to ensure they are below levels that could cause adverse health effects.

After January 1, 2023, only coatings with extractables less than 0.14 mg/L of ethylbenzene, 0.06 mg/L of toluene, and 0.09 mg/L of xylene will be certified for use on potable water structures and components. A lot of protective coatings used in the industry are solvent-based coatings, and these levels will severely limit and restrict the use of solvent-based coatings for use in facilities in contact with potable water.

Adding to the changes, all protective coatings will need to be certified under NSF 600: Health Effects Evaluation and Criteria for Chemicals in Drinking Water, which is used to ensure the product meets extraction requirements. Most coating manufacturers are planning to label certified products with both NSF 61 and NSF 600 labels for quick identification of compliant products.

What Does This Mean for the Water Industry?

Solvent-based protective coatings will not be allowed for application on the interior of potable water storage tanks unless they can meet the strict requirements of NSF 600. Most applications will now be a 100% solids coating application.

Coatings applied before the enforcement period for this new requirement shall be grandfathered, and will not need to be replaced. Exterior coating applications do not require certification with the new criteria since the protective coating will not be in contact with the potable water inside the tank.

The material costs for a high solids epoxy coating are comparable to solvent-based coating material costs, so this will not impact pricing for projects significantly. What may impact short-term costs for projects is the need for contractors to purchase or rent equipment that applies these products if a contractor is not using them primarily.

Our team will be reviewing products from all manufactures to ensure we use valid products for our clients so they can continue providing clean water for communities across Texas. You can contact our Water Supply & Treatment Experts to learn more about the changes to NSF 61/ NSF 600 and how they might impact your potable water structures and components.


Insight Posts


Looking to apply for our Internship Program or a full-time EIT Position?
Visit the Build Your Career section of our site to learn more about joining our team!
This is default text for notification bar