By Rick Andrew

Did you ever have questions about an appliance and then scramble around your personal filing system to find the manual, only to discover that it is a very thick compendium of almost everything you ever wanted to know about the appliance—except for the answer to your specific questions? Or worse yet, you find the manual, only to discover that it was written to cover an entire product line, not just the particular model that you purchased, making it indecipherable in terms of determining which information applies to which model? We have all probably experienced this frustration on occasion and found ourselves wishing that someone took the time to develop a better manual. Fortunately for end users of POU/POE equipment, there are standards that address product literature (in addition to many other requirements) to help avoid these situations.

Manuals and the standards
The NSF/ANSI Drinking Water Treatment Units (DWTU) standards address requirements for manuals (referred to in the standards as installation, operation and maintenance instructions), as well as related pieces of product literature, such as data plates (permanent labels affixed to products), replacement element packaging and performance data sheets (summarizing flowrate, treatment capacity, contaminant reduction capabilities and related information). The intent of these requirements is to provide clear and complete information for end users to understand the capabilities, limitations and ongoing operation requirements of the products. Obviously, this information will be specific to the replacement element(s) used in the system. Sediment cartridges will have different capabilities and requirements from carbon-block type cartridges, and so on. The information presented to the end user must be applicable to the filtration cartridges. Presentation of clear and accurate information can become challenging with respect to manifold-type systems typically used in restaurant fountain beverage water treatment applications. These systems are often designed to accommodate a variety of filtration cartridges, depending on the local water characteristics and treatment needs. Can you imagine the complexity of describing every possible configuration of a quad-manifold system with eight or ten different cartridge options?

Commercial modular
Fortunately, the standards address these manifold systems in a way that greatly simplifies and facilitates preparation and presentation of product literature. The standards define these systems as commercial modular (see Figure 1) to allow for alternative product literature requirements. These alternate requirements begin with the manifold itself. The manifold is required to include a permanent plate or label indicating the information in Figure 2. Note the language making it clear that these systems are not intended for general consumer usage and must be installed by a professional. This is to prevent such mishaps as the installation of dissimilar filtration cartridges in parallel with each other. Then, much of the information about the system is included on the filtration elements themselves. This helps to clearly communicate the system function when various elements are installed. Figure 3 describes the information included on commercial modular elements. Finally, there are special considerations regarding the performance data sheet. These sheets are required by each of the standards to address contaminant reduction performance and other performance specifications, such as flowrate, treatment capacity, etc. The most distinguishing feature of the performance data sheet is the table of contaminant reduction performance, listing the contaminants for which the product has been tested to reduce, the concentration of the contaminant in the challenge water per the standard and then the required level of treatment for the filtered water. In addition to all of this information that must be included in performance data sheets for commercial modular systems, the special considerations are described in Figure 4.

Special considerations contribute to clarity
By providing for alternate labeling and alternate approaches to describing system performance for commercial modular systems, the NSF/ANSI DWTU standards allow manufacturers to reduce the confusion for end users of these highly configurable systems. Rather than mandating an all-inclusive, one-size-fits-all approach to product literature for commercial modular systems, the standards foster the development of literature that is applicable to and descriptive of the configuration actually installed for the end user by a professional installer. This approach allows end users to avoid an experience similar to the one described above— the generic appliance manual that covers an entire product line, leaving the consumer unsure, wondering about which information applies to the specific model they purchased.

Water treatment is complex enough without further complicating it through unclear product information. The standards do their part to facilitate clarity in communication of product function and operational requirements in the product literature requirements.

About the author
Rick Andrew is the General Manager of NSF’s Drinking Water Treatment Units (POU/POE), ERS (Protocols) and Biosafety Cabinetry Programs. He has previously served as the Operations Manager and, prior to that, Technical Manager for the program. Andrew has a Bachelor’s Degree in chemistry and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He can be reached at (800) NSF-MARK or email


Comments are closed.