News Feature | November 9, 2016

Company Fights Contamination With Crowdsourcing

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

A new service aims to combat water contamination using online tools.

The goal is this, according to ABC 7: “A crowdsourced network, with the potential to monitor water quality nationwide.” The service aspires to offer a national water quality map with information that is useful at the community level.

“Help us build the most complete map of U.S. water quality ever made,” the company, SimpleWater, says on its website.

SimpleWater CEO John Pujol described the effort, per ABC 7: "We want thousands of people, tens of thousands of people to order their tests at the same time, lower the costs of those water tests, and provide a kind of civic value of knowing what the water quality is in all parts of the country.”

Customers send the company water samples for testing in regional labs.

“Once the tests are done, customers get a detailed report. It not only shows what's in their water along with any potential health risks, but also suggestions on the most effective solution,” the report said.

“The data will ultimately feed into a national water quality map. Perhaps heading off a future health crisis while it's still in the pipeline,” it continued.

The company says it is difficult for individuals to get accurate water-testing results.

“You could contact 3 laboratories, find one specialized in drinking water, negotiate a quote for 100+ contaminants, navigate their directions, send them your samples, wait for your results and then try to understand what 14 PPB of Hexachlorocyclopentadiene means for your health. Or you could allow us to make this simple and more valuable for you. We give you lower prices, more complete results, professional advice, and personalized water treatment recommendations if you need them,” the website says.

Meanwhile, it argues there are problems with do-it-yourself home testing.

“Home water tests measure fewer contaminants and are less accurate than a professional lab. They might not detect low, but still potentially harmful levels of many contaminants. We believe you’re better off spending a little more money for a true water quality screen,” it says.

SimpleWater is licensed to market ArsenicVolt, an arsenic-treatment system.

The system “uses the erosive process of rusting metal to capture and extract arsenic from water. It was developed at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory by two of Pujol’s partners,” Water Deeply reported.