Safe drinking water and PEX tubing

Safe drinking water is no longer a problem that only impacts the daily lives of people living in third-world countries. In recent years, cities and regions in North America have made headlines because their communities are suffering from contaminated drinking water.


Thankfully, the plumbing industry’s attention has been laser focused on safe drinking water, and the NSF/ANSI 61 standard, which helps to ensure that products are safe for drinking water through the testing and certification of plumbing products. Uponor AquaPEX® pipe for potable water meets the NSF/ANSI 61 standard.


“Standards provide us the minimum requirements products must meet and serve as the basis for model plumbing codes,” explained Rick Stock, codes and standards analyst at Uponor.


In the last few decades, PEX piping has been the most commonly used material for residential housing in the U.S. and Canada — and in the last few years — the use of PEX is increasing in both residential and commercial construction across North America in not only plumbing systems, but radiant heating/cooling, hydronic piping, pre-insulated pipe and fire sprinkler systems, too.


Testing of PEX plumbing products

What does NSF/ANSI 61 Drinking Water System Components — Health Effects entail?


  • A test procedure for evaluating the concentration of any chemical contaminant that a material may contribute to drinking water.
  • A toxicological assessment of the daily dose of that contaminant which a person may safely consume where no adverse health effects would occur.


Manufacturing quality plastic piping is reliant upon three factors: quality of raw materials, manufacturing process and repeated quality-control testing. Third-party testing is important to manufacturers, contractors and end users because drinking water can impact our health and businesses — for better or for worse.


Earning the standard

Only products that meet this strict standard are allowed to use the “NSF 61” mark.

The “NSF pw” mark indicates products meet the long-term strength and quality-control requirements of NSF/ANSI 14 and the health requirements of NSF/ANSI 61. Products that meet the standard and can exhibit them will be listed on NSF’s website.


A joint committee with equal representation from regulators (such as the U.S. EPA, Health Canada and state drinking water officials), users (such as water purveyors, utilities and engineers) and product manufactures maintain the standard. The committee meets annually, and the public can attend the meeting. The product testing process for PEX is quite rigorous, and if you’d like to learn more, read the NSF Building and Plumbing bulletin titled “Effects of Water Conservation on Plumbing Systems”.