Bay Area company to crowd source cleaner water

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- From cooking, to just grabbing a glass of water, you probably turn on the tap a dozen times a day. But are you really sure about everything that's flowing out?

"We just generally trust that our water is clean," says water researcher John Pujol.

Pujol is part of a team from the University of California that developed a low cost system to filter out dangerous levels of arsenic from water. But now he's launching an even more ambitious project on his own. A crowdsourced network, with the potential to monitor water quality nationwide.

"So what we want to accomplish is a map of U.S. water quality at the homeowner's tap," he explains.

The project was inspired in part by the crisis in Flint, Michigan, where the water system was hit with severe lead contamination. Pujol's answer is called Tap Score. It's a home testing kit that can spot more than a hundred contaminates, from arsenic to mercury to lead.

Customers get a pre-paid shipping container with two bottles to fill and mail back. The plan is to test the samples in regional labs at a discount.

"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," says Pujol.

Once the test 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.

"Where it might be coming from, but also how to get rid of it," he adds.

Pujol says the test also detects Chromium 6, a cancer causing chemical that's now being suspected in a number of water systems across the country. Customers will receive updates if new contamination is found in their neighborhood. 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.

The Tap Score test kit currently costs just under 200 dollars. For more information click here.

Written and produced by Tim Didion.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.