The Clean Water for US Kids program is designed to 1) Use a citizen-science based testing strategy to identify lead in drinking and cooking taps at childcare centers, schools, and homes, then 2) Provide recommendations and support on how to remove lead found in drinking and cooking water. Our goal is to eliminate childhood exposure to lead in drinking water.
Initial testing is FREE for states with federal grant funds that partner with RTI International.
If your state doesn't have federal grant funds to support testing, or you would like to confirm your results, you can order tests through our program.
In addition to lead, the forever chemicals in well water program is currently testing for PFAS compounds.
This Clean Water for US Kids online portal is designed for easy online participant access to enrollment, test kit ordering, and your results. We track test kits on their way to your address and send reminder notifications, share your results, and show publicly available data in our online mapper. The system also implements industry-standard cybersecurity protocols to protect participant privacy and interface directly with laboratory systems, allowing for seamless data import and review.
The system can be used on a smartphone and does not require computer access.
After clicking to enroll, you will be led through a series of questions for us to help build your mail-out test kit. Questions related to what you would like to test, house or building information, water consumption, and number of sinks will be used to generate a sampling document called a “chain-of-custody” form that will have each location to collect a water sample. We will also ask you questions related to socioeconomic and demographic information. After enrollment, you will receive training information on how to collect and ship water samples. You will also receive notifications when your sample test kit ships out.
Collecting a sample will involve filling a small water bottle for each tap used for drinking or cooking. UPS will pick up the samples so you don’t need to ship them yourself. See our videos on how to collect and ship samples, or read about the process.
If you are testing for lead, levels in drinking water may vary throughout the day. They are likely to be higher the longer water has been sitting, unused, in the pipes. To capture these higher levels, initial water samples are collected first thing in the morning at a home and on Monday mornings for locations closed on the weekends, like childcare centers and schools. It is important to sample before any water is used in the building. Follow-up sampling may occur to confirm elevated lead levels, and then to confirm levels are low after risk mitigation measures are taken.
After samples are shipped to RTI International, they are logged into the system. The RTI International Trace Metals Laboratory analyzes water samples for lead in drinking water using state-of-the-science laboratory equipment that allows us to detect lead in drinking water at levels as low as 0.1 parts per billion (ppb), also known as micrograms per liter (µg/L). We are certified in many states to use EPA Method 200.8 to measure lead and other metals.
The Analytical Laboratory Science team is also at the forefront of PFAS testing and method development. We are certified to analyze 26 PFAS compounds using EPA Method 537.1.
Once your samples are analyzed and checked for compliance with laboratory quality assurance and control procedures, we will email you a notification letter letting you know that you can view your results in the online portal. The results will be provided along with tap-specific recommendations on how to use no-cost and low-cost solutions to improve water quality.
If you participated in a federally funded lead testing project for childcare centers and schools, we are required to post your results in a public database that includes your center or school name and address.
We will provide your laboratory results with clear recommendations on affordable water quality improvements, and tips for communicating about your results with others. We will also provide basic information on installation and maintenance costs for a listing of filters certified to remove lead . You center can then make the decision about how to best implement our recommendations based on your budget. Depending on the level of lead, the action might include:
With your help, we can help lower our children’s exposure to lead with simple, affordable solutions.
We appreciate your willingness to help improve the water quality in your home and for children at childcare centers and school. We are here to help you communicate your efforts with family, parents, staff, and students. We encourage you to ask questions or provide comments for our experts on the portal.
The federal funding supporting free lead testing in some states, and the corresponding rules, requires that test results are posted publicly for transparency and awareness. All data in the online enrollment survey will be kept confidential; however, the lead results, childcare center or school name, address, and testing date will be posted online across states. Centers can choose to provide us with information on solutions implemented at problem taps so that information is also available publicly. We will also publish results from retesting after you’ve completed any of the suggested remediation efforts.
Results from tests ordered outside of these grant programs will not be posted publicly. Deidentified data may be used for research purposes.