HaloSource, a tech company based in Bothell, Wash., is used to tackling clean water challenges in countries like India and China. But when a national scandal erupted over contaminated drinking water in Flint, Mich., the company had a wake-up moment and realized it could address those same challenges closer to home.
On Thursday, also World Water Day, HaloSource launched its first product aimed at the United States: A lead-removing water bottle called Astrea that uses three internal filters to trap lead particles. The company also chose a new distribution method for the product, a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
HaloSource CEO James Thompson told GeekWire that lead in water has long been a problem in the U.S. and Western Europe.
“What Flint did was raise the profile of the problem,” he said. “We call it a big-bang moment as it relates to the awareness of heavy metals and the problems it present for cognitive development for young children, even all the way to heart disease for older people. There’s really no level of lead that’s an allowable limit.”
Shortly after Flint, an investigation by USA Today found over two thousand water systems in the U.S. had tested for excessive lead levels. Many of those systems served schools or child care centers, raising concerns about the harmful effects of heavy metals on children.
Thompson said high levels of lead remains a problem across the U.S., both in municipal water systems and in buildings.
“It’s the last-mile problem, if you will, for drinking water,” Thompson said. “If your home or school or office building was built before 1985, when they phased out the use of lead pipes and fixtures, you may have a problem.”
Those who are worried about lead contamination in their homes should run a faucet or use water another way for a few minutes each morning before using faucet water to drink or cook. There are also plenty of faucet fixtures on the market that filter lead to safe levels.
Portable filters like pitchers and water bottles often don’t have that ability. HaloSource says the Astrea is “the most effective lead-filtering bottle in the world.” On Thursday, the first day of the campaign, backers can pay $36 for one Astrea bottle. That price rises to $45 for the remainder of the campaign. The campaign is aiming to raise $50,000 overall.
A portion of the funds raised will be donated to water.org as part of HaloSource’s ongoing partnership with the nonprofit.
HaloSource was founded in 1998 and has about 60 employees based in Bothell, Wash., and its offices in India and China.