What the Deadline for the Updated Solvent Criteria Means for Potable Water Coatings

Jan. 3, 2023
The January 1, 2023, deadline for water products to meet the updated health effects criteria in NSF/ANSI/CAN 600 includes significant reductions in the pass/fail criteria for three solvents: toluene, ethylbenzene and total xylenes.

The January 1, 2023 deadline for water products to meet the updated health effects criteria in NSF/ANSI/CAN 600 is here.  This update includes significant reductions in the pass/fail criteria for three solvents: toluene, ethylbenzene, and total xylenes. The update helps ensure that drinking water system components do not leach these solvents at levels that would be detrimental to public health. Manufacturers of products that already meet the new criteria will be able to continue selling their products with their NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 certification in 2023. Products that do not meet the new solvent criteria by January 1, 2023 will no longer be able to be marked as certified to NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 and the products will no longer appear in NSF’s public listings.   

The new solvent criteria are below:  

Previous CriteriaUpdated Criteria

TAC 1,000 (µg/L)

SPAC 100 (µg/L)

TAC 60 (µg/L) 

SPAC 6 (µg/L) 


TAC 700 (µg/L) 

SPAC 70 (µg/L) 

TAC 140 (µg/L) 

SPAC 14 (µg/L) 

Total Xylenes

TAC 10,000 (µg/L) 

SPAC 100 (µg/L) 

TAC 90 (µg/L) 

SPAC 9 (µg/L) 


NSF/ANSI/CAN 61: Drinking Water Systems Components-Health Effects is the flagship standard in North America for drinking water system components. All products that come into contact with drinking water or drinking water treatment chemicals from source to tap fall under the scope of this standard. As part of certification to this standard, products are exposed to formulated exposure waters over a period of 1-19 days, and the resulting extractant water is analyzed and evaluated for chemical contaminants that may have leached from the product into the simulated drinking water. Leached contaminant levels are compared to pass/fail criteria based on the toxicological health effects of the chemical. The health effects criteria used to evaluate products to NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 and the toxicological procedures used to set those criteria are housed in the reference standard, NSF/ANSI/CAN 600: Health Effects Evaluation and Criteria for Chemicals in Drinking Water. 

Currently, 49 US states and 11 Canadian provinces/territories have legislation, regulations, or policies in place that require drinking water system components to comply with NSF/ANSI/CAN 61. Thus, certification to this standard is essential for selling water contact products into the North American market and provides a basis for acceptance for a product’s installation in a potable water system while ensuring that the product is being evaluated to the most current regulatory requirements.   

Response to Changing Regulations 

In 2014, Health Canada issued new regulatory MAC (maximum allowable concentration) levels for three solvents: toluene, ethylbenzene, and total xylenes. NSF/ANSI/CAN 600 requires that a substance regulated by the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or Health Canada be evaluated according to those assessments, without additional toxicological evaluation. The less stringent criteria previously used to evaluate these compounds were not based on regulatory values, so those previous criteria were superseded by the Health Canada MAC values within NSF/ANSI/CAN 600. Consequently, in 2018 the new MAC values for these three solvents were published as updated criteria under that standard.  

Due to the significant reduction in allowable levels of these solvents and their widespread use at high levels in certain water contact products, such as coatings, NSF set a five-year implementation period for the updated criteria. This implementation period is effectively a grace period given in order to give manufacturers time to update their product lines to bring them into compliance with the new criteria. The dramatic change in acceptance criteria has meant that some manufacturers have had to consider significant reformulation of their products, or even replacement of entire product lines of solvent-based coating products that are currently certified under NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 and intended for use with potable water. 

This update illustrates how health effects criteria in NSF/ANSI/CAN 600 and the requirements in NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 are kept current with the most up-to-date regulations in the U.S. and Canada, ensuring that drinking water system components do not impart harmful chemicals into drinking water and safeguarding the water on which we all depend. 

Products that meet current standard requirements can be found at NSF's Public Listings Page. For more information on the updated criteria, please contact [email protected].   

Kathryn Foster is senior operations manager for Commercial Water at NSF.

About the Author

Kathryn Foster

Kathryn Foster is senior operations manager for Commercial Water, NSF. 

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