Materials in contact with drinking water

Improve the European regulatory context

The 4MS abbreviation means the four Member States which collaborate in the harmonization of requirements for the hygienic suitability of products in contact with drinking water. The 4 countries are Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. This group was created in 2006 after the failure of the European Commission’s project "European Acceptance Scheme", which intended to create a unique European system to assess hygienic aspects of products in contact with drinking water. After several years of informal work, the 4MS officialised their cooperation by a declaration of intent in 2011.

The work they do is carefully monitored by the CEIR Sanitary Technical Committee. Manufacturers are extremely conscious of hygiene issues and while they are improving their products, they stay in close touch with regulatory initiatives. The CEIR Sanitary Technical Committee is in constant contact with representative of the 4MS to understand, discuss and propose.

As written on the 4MS website, hosted by the German government, the 4MS intend to adopt common, or directly comparable, practices for:

  • The acceptance of the constituents used in materials in contact with drinking water
  • The testing of materials
  • The use of common test methods and setting acceptance levels
  • The specification of tests to be applied to products
  • Reviewing factory production control and setting audit testing requirements
  • Assessing the capabilities of certification and testing bodies

As a complement to the 4MS initiatives, CEIR is also involved in the European Commission’s Expert Group on Product Testing Procedures, whose aim is to provide guidance in the process of drafting standards for products in contact with drinking water. These standards, when ready, will be reviewed by the European Commission in order to obtain the status of harmonized standards, so that they can be used to support CE marking for products covered by the Construction Products Regulation. The 4MS and other national initiatives are used as input, along with the practices and experience of manufacturers.

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