By Tom Bruursema
Beginning in October, the Centre Scientifique et Technique du Batiment (CSTB), headquartered in Paris, France, will begin accepting applications for certification of drinking water treatment units (DWTUs). The basis for certification will be the American national standards of NSF International. Products meeting the requirements of CSTB will be issued the CSTBat Service Mark. This announcement comes on the heels of the signed agreement by CSTB with NSF, who will provide exclusive testing for CSTB to the ANSI/NSF Standards developed under guidelines of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
CSTB, which translates in English to the “French Scientific and Technical Building Institute,” works closely with the building industry, including construction professionals and manufacturers. The organization has 600 employees, of which over half are engineers, research workers and experts in a wide range of fields. Areas of expertise include building materials and techniques, hydraulics and sanitary equipment, safety, thermal energy, acoustics, aerodynamics, lighting, environmental and health issues, advanced information and communication technology, as well as economics and sociology. Under hydraulics and sanitary equipment are included drinking water treatment units, along with faucets, pipes and fittings, sinks, etc.
The role of CSTB
CSTB applies its specialized skills in four fields: research, technical consultation, quality assessment and approvals, and dissemination of knowledge and information. Through these services they assist manufacturers, building contractors, engineering firms, architects, contractors and public authorities.
CSTB also plays an important international role throughout Europe and globally. CSTB is the French representative to the European Organization for Technical Approvals (EOTA), acting secretary of the European Union for Technical Approvals in the construction industry (UEAtc), and actively participates in the European Economic Interest Group ENBRI (European Network of Building Research Institutes).
Certification in France is generally associated with the “NF” Mark, as administered through the French Standards Association (Association Francaise de Normalisation; AFNOR). AFNOR prepares standards in most fields of the environment, including the monitoring of air, water and soil quality. CSTB holds a prestigious partnership with AFNOR as one of the 12 “mandated bodies” able to administer the NF Mark on behalf of AFNOR. Each mandated body has an area of expertise, as with CSTB in the area of building construction. AFNOR delegates all of the certification operations to these bodies.
To date, however, AFNOR doesn’t have a comparable set of standards to that of the American national standards for drinking water treatment units. Further, it would likely be some years before they could adopt the ANSI/NSF protocols or something comparable as French standards. As a result, the decision was made by CSTB to adopt, through policy, the ANSI/NSF ones:
- Standard 42 Drinking water treatment units—Aesthetic effects;
- Standard 44 Residential cation exchange water softeners;
- Standard 53 Drinking water treatment units—Health effects, and
- Standard 58: Reverse osmosis drinking water treatment systems.
Products that comply with these standards, and with the CSTB rules for certification will achieve the recognized CSTBat mark en lieu of the NF Mark.
Rules under development
The process to achieve the CSTBat Mark is similar to all other international certification processes, including that of NSF. In short, products must demonstrate compliance with the applicable standard and pass an on-site audit of the manufacturing facility. Following certification, regular monitoring occurs to ensure continued compliance, including further facility auditing and product testing. These rules specifically for drinking water treatment units are now under development by CSTB.
Under terms of the agreement with CSTB, NSF will provide for exclusive testing and evaluation to the ANSI/NSF Standards. One additional evaluation will be performed through CSTB, referred to as the “health effect procedure.” Following demonstrated compliance with the standard and this procedure, an audit of the manufacturing facility will take place by either NSF or CSTB, depending upon location of the facility. Those in Europe will be audited preferably by CSTB and those in North America by NSF. Ultimately, only CSTB will make the decision authorizing use of the CSTBat Service Mark and only NSF will do so for the NSF Mark.
There are several benefits the industry will realize from this partnership, including faster access to both the U.S. and French markets, reduced overall testing and audit costs, and ability to work through a single organization to achieve dual marks.
CSTB is working towards completion of the first draft of their rules, establishing the administrative policies for the certification of drinking water treatment units. This will then be presented for review by other committees of CSTB. They expect to then present the final rules on Oct. 14, 2000, to the General Certification Committee of CSTB. Following adoption, CSTB will make available French Certification to the ANSI/NSF Standards.
About the author
Tom Bruursema, general manager of NSF Drinking Water Treatment Unit Program, is a 15-year veteran of NSF International and also serves as head of its Environmental and Research Services program. He can be reached at (734) 769-5575, (734) 769-0109 (fax) or email: email@example.com
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For more information, visit the NSF International website at www.nsf.org or contact Bob Tanner, vice president of European operations, in Brussels, Belgium, at +32-2-771-3654 or email: email@example.com. To reach CSTB, visit its site at http://www.cstb.fr , or contact Patrick Paris in France at +33-01-64-68-82-84 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org