Look for ‘Q ≤ 1’ on the packaging or product

When shopping for a new drinking water faucet or other drinking water device like a water dispenser or drinking fountain, look for “Q ≤ 1” on the packaging or product. Q ≤ 1 will be preceded by “NSF/ANSI/CAN 61:” as shown below; this wording may also be accompanied by the logo of a plumbing product certifier and located near the product SKU (scannable bar code) on the packaging.

NSF/ANSI/CAN 61: Q ≤ 1

What does Q ≤ 1 mean?

Q ≤ 1 signifies that the product meets the 2020 edition of the NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 standard, which requires all certified drinking water devices to leach 1 microgram (mcg) of lead or less during product testing. One mcg is equal to one-millionth of a gram. By comparison, one grain of salt is 60 times larger than 1 mcg. The new standard will become mandatory in the United States and Canada on Jan. 1, 2024, but products meeting the standard are available in the marketplace now.

Why is purchasing a Q ≤ 1 faucet important?

Childcare centers and schools are encouraged to replace their drinking water devices with products meeting the new standard because children are more likely than adults to experience adverse health effects from lead exposure. Purchasing drinking water devices that are certified to the 2020 NSF/ANSI/CAN 61: Q ≤ 1 standard ensures that you have the most up-to-date product with the lowest lead leachate.

Q ≤ 1 is the latest plumbing manufacturing safety innovation

The use of lead in water pipes goes back thousands of years. Lead was chosen by ancient civilizations for piping because the soft metal resists leaks and can be formed into shapes that deliver water efficiently.

As more information became available about the health effects of lead exposure, faucet and drinking water device manufacturers, including the members of Plumbing Manufacturers International, found ways to reduce lead content and leaching. The NSF/ANSI/CAN 61: Q ≤ 1 standard reduces the allowable amount of lead leached during product testing five-fold – from the previous allowable amount of Q ≤ 5 to Q ≤ 1.

Where does most lead in water come from?

Not from faucets. A study by the American Water Works Association and the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that only 1% to 3% of lead content measured at the faucet leached from the faucet; most of the lead content originated from lead in service lines that connect the water main to water pipes in a building. Not all service lines contain lead content – check with your local utility to learn whether or not your lines contain lead.

Will lead service lines be replaced?

Most lead service lines haven’t been replaced because of the high expense – the estimated price tag is about $6,000 per line – which amounts to billions of dollars nationally. Right now, municipalities, states and the U.S. Congress are debating various ways to launch replacement programs and cover the expense.

Look for ‘Q ≤ 1’ on the packaging or product

Learn more about lead in water.