Questions about Triple Clear

In this post we share our opinions and ask questions about Triple Clear (website https://www.tripleclear.com/), a product line promoted as secondary stage filtration for buildings.

What they offer sounds fantastic:

We provide bottled-water quality water to the entire building, while increasing the efficiency of water heaters, and providing additional safety against biological or viral contamination."

Wait, there's more!

We provide advanced metals removal at a fraction of the cost and complication of membrane or RO technologies.

Other companies labor mightily to achieve these goals, but hey, apparently there is a no-muss-no-fuss solution.   

Here are some questions we suggest a mechanical engineer or owner offered this product might want to ask.  Let's start with a look at this page where the company claims to “reduce or remove” a breathtakingly broad spectrum of pathogens and heavy metals: https://www.tripleclear.com/forcefield

Question:  If the product is that good, if it takes out so much, why has the company not submitted it to NSF for performance certification?  As is well understood in the industry, NSF is the one testing authority universally acknowledged as the independent third party all serious manufacturers of water treatment equipment go to for certification and validation of their claims.

Well, maybe they just didn’t get around to it yet.  According to their website…

**Tested by a certified laboratory in the U.S. (testing was done at 6.5 pH)

Ah, OK, “a” certified laboratory. 

By the way, why testing at 6.5 pH?  A pH level of 6.5 is unrepresentative of normal municipal water conditions.  In a city like New York pH is carefully regulated to stay close to a neutral value of 7.0.  (We think we know the answer, but that gets pretty deep into the weeds of water tech so we'll let it pass.)

Here’s something else that caught our eye from the report by this "certified laboratory":

Efficacy following passage of 1000 gallons…

1000 gallons?  For a typical NYC building running @400 gpm, let’s see… that would mean 2 minutes and 30 seconds of use.  After which, the product can no longer be presumed to be as efficacious as stated.  A day later, some 40,000 gallons of water having passed through the unit… what is the efficacy of the product by then?

Anyway, back to NSF certification:  According to NYC Plumbing Code -- https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/apps/pdf_viewer/viewer.html?file=2014CC_PC_Chapter6_Water_Supply_and_Distribution.pdf&section=conscode_2014 --

SECTION PC 611  DRINKING WATER TREATMENT UNITS

611.1 Design.  Drinking water treatment units shall meet the requirements of NSF 42, NSF 44, NSF 53 or NSF 62.

Note the above referenced standard numbers.  Now turn back to the website page https://www.tripleclear.com/forcefield and check out the reference to... Voila!  NSF Certification:  Certified to NSF 61/372.

Wait a minute.  NSF 61 is not NSF 42, NSF 44, NSF 53 or NSF 62.  It’s a “do no harm” certification to certify that the equipment doesn’t put anything harmful into the water.

Meaning, NSF 61 certification says nothing whatsoever about whether the manufacturer’s performance claims are credible.

This takes us into details of NYC Plumbing Code.  Now if you are a plumbing engineer, or buying mechanical equipment for the owner, these details are important to understand:

A mechanical filter – like our Omicron particle-reduction systems or even a section of pipe – needs to be NSF Standard 61 certified.  It is considered a “potable water supply fixture component” by the NYC Department of Buildings.

The reason a mechanical filter designed only to reduce particles is subject to NSF 61, and not any other NSF Standard, is that there are no claims associated with automatic screen filtration to take out harmful (as opposed to aesthetic or unpleasant) water quality factors thereby producing “bottled-quality” drinking water. 

Also automatic screen filter performance is ongoing (it backwashes at regular intervals) and accordingly is not diminished by usage.  It falls within DOB’s general classification of Water Service Pipe.

For more info about the application of NSF 61, see https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/codes/2014-construction-codes.page#plumb or the Draft 2020 Plumbing Code of New York State Published June 2019 https://www.dos.ny.gov/dcea/pdf/2020%20PCNYS%20June%202019.pdf and search for “NSF 61”.

In either document, see Section 611.1 Design, wherein it states:
Drinking water treatment units shall meet the requirements of NSF 42, NSF 44, NSF 53 or NSF 62.

So our question to anyone proposing Triple Clear is simple:

Is it a drinking water treatment unit, or is it not?  Based on its claims, it would clearly seem to be – and therefore per NYC Plumbing Code must be certified to one of the NSF Standards noted above.  NSF 61 is irrelevant.

On the other hand, if it is not to be considered a water treatment unit, and therefore exempt from the NSF requirements cited in the Code, then… where’s the value?  The only reason it would be exempt is if its claims are not to be taken seriously.

So which is it?  If it does what it claims, surely anyone promoting it for use in a New York City building understands it needs to be NSF-certified to the applicable Standard.  If it doesn’t need to be NSF-certified to the applicable Standard, then why is it offered in the first place?

Note on the Triple Clear website some fine print:  

DISCLAIMER: The information supplied in this document is for guidance only and should not be construed as a warranty. All implied warranties are expressly disclaimed, including without limitation any warranty of merchantability of fitness for use. All users of the material are responsible for ensuring that it is suitable for their needs, environment and end use. All data is subject to change as Triple Clear Water Solutions deems appropriate.

it seems like they are taking care to make sure we understand that their product claims should -- or, perhaps, should not -- be taken seriously.