WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Spurred by an epidemic of drinking water hazards, TOXIN ALERT® launches the first-ever early warning geographic alert system of harmful drinking water for cities and communities nationwide. TOXIN ALERT combines data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies, with a network of citizen-contributed certified laboratory testing of drinking water. It further provides insightful regional-mapping and alerts for hazards in a user's proximity.
TOXIN ALERT effectively creates the first nationwide geo+social digital-health tool and public alert network to help empower citizens with critical information to prevent future water poisonings.
With 88% of the public recognizing contaminated drinking water as a 'serious' health issue1, public concern has reached a peak. Beyond problems in Flint Michigan, over 2000 drinking water systems2 across all 50 states nationwide have dangerous lead levels, with 18 million people3 being exposed to high-lead drinking water systems in 2015. However, few people are aware of their own water quality, and even fewer individuals know how to find and understand the complex data, nor how to stay up-to-date and view of all hazardous water locations in their area.
As result, there is an urgent need for a system like TOXIN ALERT, which leverages the power of big data and social networks to empower citizens and communities to together protect their families from water pollution. Notably, TOXIN ALERT combines innovative digital algorithms into a unique mapping and alert notification system:
- Mapping visualization of tap water quality data from the EPA, plus well/groundwater data from the US Geological Survey
- Online submission and mapping of user-submitted drinking water laboratory reports
- Ability to order direct-to-home-to-laboratory-to-map water tests, with tests fulfilled by certified laboratories
- Ability to receive alert notifications of all updated water hazards near their home/work
"The dangers of lead and many toxins are often irreversible to children," says Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, TOXIN ALERT founder and Executive Director. "Thus, an early warning system is absolutely essential. By creating a geo-social network of citizens actively providing sentinel-surveillance, TOXIN ALERT can help identify local epi-centers of water concerns before they grow into public health calamities."
TOXIN ALERT is supported by an experienced team of scientists and engineers who, all as parents, built the platform for protecting children. However, creating such a platform was no easy task. "In order to integrate hundreds of thousands of locations and over 500,000 data points, we had to create advanced algorithms to mine and harvest data in order to create the mapping system needed to provide useful alerts to the public," says Naveen Vemula, head of software architecture.
Pius Lee, head of data operations and design, further points out, "Although the EPA water data are informative, they are insufficient and incomplete4. Local governments still have a wealth of additional water data that they can hopefully share, along with contributions from private citizens nationwide."
Users may submit their own previous tests results conducted by certified laboratories, or order a basic water test, provided at-cost for $49.95, which tests lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and copper. More comprehensive drinking water tests are available from National Testing Laboratories, a 50-state certified provider of water tests. TOXIN ALERT does not make any profit from any tests.
Another long-term goal of TOXIN ALERT is to reduce health inequality from poverty and rural geography. Dr. Feigl-Ding, who is also a faculty at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, highlights that, "Millions of people nationwide each year drink water with unknown quality because of where they live, or drink potentially harmful ground water. It's Toxin Alert's goal, with funding from future sponsors and donors, that we can someday make water testing subsidized or available free to high-risk and impoverished areas that do not have annual testing."
ABOUT: TOXIN ALERT is a non-profit initiative of the Future Health Foundation. TOXIN ALERT is led by Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding and supported by a world-class team of scientists, engineers, and parents. http://www.ToxinAlert.org Follow us: twitter.com/toxinalert and facebook.com/toxinalert.
SOURCE Toxin Alert