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Drinking Water: an important subject for the European countries as for TEPPFA

The third edition of TEPPFA Forum 2016 was a great success. The 25th anniversary event took place in the wonderful surroundings of the Steigenberger Hotel in Brussels on Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th of April 2016.

Drinking water is an important subject for the plastics pipes and fittings industry. On Tuesday afternoon, a conference session moderated by Tony Frost, Aqua Focus tackled the issues and challenges of drinking water in Europe, with speakers: Tobias Biermann, EU Commission DG ENV, Iain Naismith, The Water Bureau, Markus Bohl, Uponor and with the contribution of Manfred Fuchs, EU Commission DG GROW.

For Tony Frost, certification of materials and products used in drinking water applications is a requirement in many countries to prevent contamination of the drinking water supplies and protect the health of the consumer. But there is still a wide diversity of national requirements for materials suitability between the EU Members states. Today, 17 countries have a national certification scheme and the requirements vary widely and may involve disclosure of the material formulation and compliance with positive lists. Testing are odour, flavour, colour, turbidity, enhancement of microbial growth, general hygiene via TOC (Total Organic Carbon), chlorine demand, specific determinants, unsuspected substances (GCMS), cytotoxicity, factory production control attestation.

These test methodologies are complex, time consuming and very expensive. In 2006, EAS was abandoned by DG Environment due to lack of resources. TC164 work continued under M/136 but due to issues with regulatory guidance for harmonised product standards M/136 may be deleted, so no official route now via CPR. 4(5) MS is progressing, but unofficially and limited by time and resources. The DWD public consultation Article 10 is currently under review.

The European industry wants to achieve a harmonised positive lists for raw materials, harmonised supporting standards for test procedures, common acceptance criteria for test results and national notified bodies list. The Construction product drinking water wants a clear product marking and a mutual recognition of accreditation across the European Union. A compliance with the Portuguese notification 2015/234/P, reflecting the current position of the 4MS could provide a sound basis for mutual recognition.

At the European level, what responsibility should CEN TC 164 acknowledge and address in order to contribute to the resolution of the diversity of requirements for materials suitability for contact with drinking water? The diversity of EU requirements for suitability of materials for contact with drinking water is a serious health issue for the future.