Oct 22, 2002

POU Faucet Selections

Faucets for point-of-use (POU) water treatment systems must
combine an attractive, contemporary appearance with materials that ensure
safety and purity. POU faucets and systems are becoming increasingly important
to help meet consumer demands for safe, high-quality drinking water. It is
estimated that by 2020 almost every household will have a POU or point-of-entry (POE) water treatment system.

Lead Concerns

Unsafe levels of lead in drinking water are an old and
on-going issue. This can occur as a result of old fixtures that have lead
solder as well as from lead pipes. Unsafe lead levels have been found in older
drinking water systems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
recommends that lead levels in drinking water be less than 15 parts per billion.

Another area of concern is public schools. Even though the
EPA does not yet require it, some school systems have initiated plans to
replace their old drinking fountains with newer models. Test results in schools
showed that many of their bubbler fountains had unsafe levels of lead in the
drinking water.

Lead-free faucets are the answer to lead problems occurring
in older drinking water equipment and systems in restaurants, hotels, parks,
schools and many other applications.

Amendments to the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act had
required faucets and other endpoint plumbing devices to comply with the lead
requirements of ANSI/NSF Standard 61, Section 9, by Aug. 6, 1998. Products
covered under the scope of ANSI/NSF Standard 61, Section 9, include drinking
fountains, water coolers, hot water dispensers, glass fillers, kitchen and
lavatory faucets as well as residential refrigerator ice makers.

ANSI is the American National Standards Institute. This
private, non-profit organization has established procedures and policies to
help develop voluntary consensus standards. Water treatment dealers should
educate consumers on the importance of lead-free certified faucets for their
POU systems.

Faucet Options

Faucets for POU, reverse osmosis (RO) and other water
treatment systems are available in either an air-gap or non air-gap version.
These faucets are constructed of stainless steel and are lead-free. Both can be
NSF listed to ANSI/NSF Standard 61-1999a. The air-gap style provides
protection from back-siphonage and commonly offers barbed wastewater
connections for 1/4-inch tubing in and 3/8-inch tubing out.
Back-siphonage is the flowing back of used, contaminated or polluted water from
a plumbing fixture or vessel into a water supply pipe due to a negative
pressure (vacuum) in the pipe.

A variety of color options for the POU faucets is available
from vendors including polished and stainless steel, polished brass, black and
white to help the consumer enhance any decor. An ergonomic handle can be used
to activate the faucet with a light touch for either intermittent or constant
flow. A gooseneck swivels and features a stream straightener and protective
tip. These faucet types should have a maximum temperature rating of 212° F
and a maximum pressure rating of 120 psi/8 BAR to efficiently dispense the
treated water.

The faucets used on the indoor and outdoor drinking water
fountains can be either the "bubbler" style or the "projector
head." The bubbler incorporates the activator button right into the
faucet, which controls the flow. Some bubblers are adjustable to control flow
rates and can handle a maximum pressure of 120 psi/8 BAR and a maximum
temperature rating of 212° F. The projector head allows for the activator
button to be located away from where the water is being dispensed. This is
quite common where the button is placed on the side of a cooler or fountain for
easy reach. The projector head simply provides the flow characteristics for
drinking. An interesting option available with the projector head is a
"set screw" that allows for protection from vandals. This
especially is popular on outdoor fountains. Bubblers and projector heads should
be lead-free and NSF certified to ANSI Standard 61.

Fountain glass fillers feature lead-free brass construction
with a chrome plated finish and a lever actuated flow. The unique internal
design provides a smooth flow through a wide range of pressures without the
need for a flow-control design. The fountain glass fillers have a
3?8-inch NPS connection and are available with a 5-inch, 8-inch or long-reach spout. Dispensing styles can
include push down, push back or cup trip. Another option is a vertical mount glass filler. Fountain glass fillers
should have a maximum pressure rating of 120 psi/8 BAR.

Other point-of-use water systems use plastic cooler faucets.
These faucets should be made of FDA-grade polypropylene and be lead free. These
materials do not distort or affect the taste of the water being dispensed. The
faucets should be NSF listed and many are available in a variety of colors.
Optional handles including a "cup trip" style for one-hand
dispensing and a "safety handle" design to help prevent accidental
dispensing are additional choices to enhance the unit. These faucets should
have a pressure rating of 20 psi/1.33 BAR, a maximum temperature of 170° F
(77° C) and a flow rate of 3.21 oz/sec; 1.51 gal/min; 5.71 L/min.

Another application for point-of-use faucets is hot water
dispensing units, coffee brewers and coffee urns where water lines are plumbed
directly into the unit. These faucets are dispensing very hot water--up to
boiling--and are made of chromed brass. Both gravity and high-pressure
faucets are available. Faucets should be NSF listed and can be supplied with
safety-style handles to prevent accidental dispensing. Some high-pressure
faucets come standard with a safety-clip and aerator for a smooth, controlled
flow. When required, a spout extension can be installed on the metal faucets to
ensure even more control over the dispensing of such hot liquids.

The key to faucet selection is safety. It is recommended to
avoid the inexpensive, leaded brass styles for any RO or "bubbler"
style applications. The NSF certification ensures that the design and materials
used provide for a safe product. Beyond that, the rest of the considerations
revolve around aesthetics such as which style and color look best for a given
product or specific location.

In the not-too-distant future, all consumers will demand
purified and/or filtered water. How and where that water is treated will be the
consumer's choice. Consumers already are choosing to install POU systems
and POE whole house systems to obtain high-quality, good tasting water. With the
threat of contamination of large municipal water treatment plants, POU/POE
water treatment/filtering systems will be considered as a means to ensure safe
and pure drinking water within homes.

About the author

Gary M. Strunak is the national sales manager for Tomlinson Industries' No-Drip product line. He is responsible for all No-Drip sales in the United States and Canada. He has been with Tomlinson since 1979. Tomlinson Industries has been a supplier to the bottled water industry since 1958. Strunak can be reached at 216-587-3400; fax 216-587-0733; [email protected].