Union College Water Initiative

Geology Department, ICP-MS Lab

Get Your Drinking Water Ananylzed for Free!


In early 2017 we started a public outreach program, spurred by drinking water quality problems in Flint, MI, Hoosic Falls, NY, and many other places. We are analyzing carefully collected drinking water samples for lead, zinc, and copper. This is a public outreach program that we plan to continue indefinitely into the future. Sampling kits are available from the Union College Geology Department.

BrochureExplanation of the program (pdf)
Sampling formForm for all submitted samples (pdf)
Public dataExcel spreadsheet (xlsx)
NYS Resources

Drinking Water Protection Program
Lead testing of school drinking water
Annual Water Quality Report
NY City OpenData drinking wate

Federal resources

EPA: Ground Water and Drinking Water
EPA: Regulated Drinking Water Contaminants
EPA: Secondary Drinking Water Standard

Who does the work?

Most of the work leading up to water analysis is done by Union College students. This work includes entering sample metadata (bottle numbers, where the sample was taken, when it was taken, etc.), acidifying the water, making standards, and setting up the analysis run for the ICP-MS instrument. This work requires training and exacting care, and is done under the supervision of Union College faculty.

How do I get my water analyzed?

First, get a sample kit. You can do this several ways. Stop by the Geology Department and pick one up, call so we can send you one (518-388-6770), or contact me.

Are your analyses taking a long time to get back to you?

We only do analyses after we get 50 or more samples, which may take months. Sorry. After the analyses are done, we try to get the results back within one day. Sometimes the e-mail addresses, that we send the results to, don’t work. In some cases we don’t get e-mail addresses at all, nor alternative means to communicate. If you know the sample bottle numbers, sampling location, or sampling date, you should be able to find the results on the public data Excel spreadsheet.

Materials for the analysis group
Sample procedures (pdf)
Template for metadata and sample prep (xlsx)
Sample bottle washing instructions (pdf)
Standard and internal standard calculations (xlsx)
Boilerplate for e-mail replies (txt)