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Water Certification: IAPMO vs ICC

Water Certification: IAPMO vs ICC

Diving into the world of water certification, it will be discovered that a shallow dive is not possible.

That’s because the world of water certification is one of the governmental and international standards, in which private organizations put forth quality standards and codes that certain governments accept as best practices.

Two of the most common entities are IAPMO and ICC.


IAPMO stands for The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. This body exists to help individual U.S. and international jurisdictions create and enforce their codes for plumbing, swimming pool, mechanical and solar energy projects.

The organization is known for publishing several different uniform codes, which are used around the world:

  • UPC: Uniform Plumbing Code
  • UMC: Uniform Mechanical Code
  • USPSHTC: Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa and Hot Tub Code
  • USHGC: Uniform Solar, Hydronics and Geothermal Code

History of IAPMO

IAPMO was created in Los Angeles, California, on May 17, 1926. Originally called the Los Angeles City Plumbing Inspectors Association, the group resulted from a conversation between 39 plumbing inspectors during a coffee break.

The group realized that forming an organization would allow them to standardize their practices in dealing with Los Angeles’ plumbing needs. However, they did not anticipate that this decision would one day have a worldwide impact, with their UPC affecting the health and safety of half of the earth’s population.

The group’s mandate was as follows:

“To advance the latest and most improved methods of sanitation; to promote the welfare of and harmony between the owner, the builder, and the craftsman; to accomplish a uniformity in the application of the provisions of the ordinances; and to promulgate the mutual benefit of the members."

By codifying their practices, the group was able to begin putting an end to subpar plumbing practices.

How does IAPMO test water quality?

Lab testing for water quality must conform to certain standards. IAPMO uses several different water standards and certification practices, each created by a different organization. The most common ones that IAPMO uses are:


The WQA (Water Quality Association) provides education on water quality and specializes in testing water treatment products.

IAPMO issues a WQA Gold Seal when a product is guaranteed to be high-quality, durable and offers the highest degree of safety.


The NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), not to be confused with a governmental agency that shares the acronym, was originally formed to test food equipment and soda fountains. Today they specialize in testing point-of-entry and point-of-use drinking water treatment systems.

Different NSF standards set rigorous criteria for different water filtration product types, with the goal being for the public to take safe water for granted. Products must pass regular inspections to sustain their certification.

Common NSF standards used by IAPMO include NSF/ANSI 42, 44, 53, 55, 58, and others.


The EPA, or the Environmental Protection Agency, is a federal agency in the U.S. that creates regulations to help sustain the environment. The SDWA (Safe Drinking Water Act) protects drinking water quality in the U.S. and monitors levels of contaminants, while Primary Drinking Water Regulations set threshold levels for dangerous contaminants.

Interestingly, the EPA requires water disinfection equipment to be registered as a pesticide.

IAPMO R&T Certification

IAPMO’s R&T (Research and Testing) division is committed to testing water systems and plumbing/mechanical products to guarantee their safety and quality. IAPMO offers several different quality seals, including:

  • IAPMO R&T Water Quality Platinum Seal

Of all the organizations listed here, IAPMO has been testing water products for quality longer than an