NSF International and the National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA) announced in a recent press release that the organizations are developing a standard for K-12 school equipment and supplies. The standard will be the first comprehensive standard to certify health, safety and environmental aspects of products and equipment used in an educational setting. There are currently no programs that evaluate school equipment and products on a comprehensive basis.

NSF/NSSEA Standard 380: School Supplies and Equipmentcovers several aspects of school equipment and products including: electrical and fire safety, volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions, materials safety, and stability and load performance. The new standard includes requirements for: desks, chairs, tables, visual communication products, audio-visual equipment, seating equipment, flooring, lab equipment, among other items. Product performance will be evaluated by physical and mechanical testing, chemical analysis and volatile organic composition.

“In today’s market there is no standardized way to evaluate the safety and sustainability of furniture and supplies used in our classrooms. The new standard will allow NSSEA members to demonstrate, in a tangible way, their commitment to producing furniture of superior quality that enhance public health and safety,” says Tim Holt, President/CEO of NSSEA. “With 66 years of experience developing American national public health standards, NSF International is well positioned to assist NSSEA in its goal of establishing this consensus standard for K-12 products.”

The K-12 school equipment standard will be developed using a consensus-based approach involving representation from all stakeholders affected by the scope of the standard via NSF’s standards development process. NSF International is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop American national standards. This process ensures balanced input and representation from K-12 school and educational advocacy organizations, school procurement professionals, public health and regulatory officials, industry and consumers.

NSF International will launch a certification program, which will be based on the K-12 school equipment standard. The certification program will verify that all NSF Certified products meet the standard’s requirements. All NSF Certified products will be listed on NSF’s website and can bear the NSF Certification mark.

“Developing a national standard and certification program will enable school districts to easily and efficiently identify products and equipment that are appropriate for use in the K-12 educational setting. The standard also will help meet the needs of product manufacturers, educational organizations and consumer interest groups looking for standardization and third-party objectivity,” said Jane Wilson, Director of Standards, NSF International.