By Brad Banaszynski
As many already know due to large exposure on a national news level, citizens of Flint, Michigan are facing a severe water crisis. For what officials are estimating to be about a year now, residents of Flint have been exposed to high levels of lead in their municipal water supply. In the past, Flint had always got its water from the Lake Huron through Detroit’s system before they switched in an effort to save money. This decision has now affected thousands of residents, with a large percentage of those being children.
After the switch to start receiving water from the Flint River, many residents started complaining about strangely colored tap water. Studies have shown that, since the switch, lead levels are 10 times higher than they had been since previously being measured. A local hospital also reported that the percentage of Flint children with elevated lead levels doubled after the switch. This is concerning because children are much more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults. Elevated lead counts are very serious due to the skin lesions, hair loss, vision loss, depression and anxiety that are linked to it. Eden Wells, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said recently that all children who drank the city’s water since April 2014 have been exposed to the lead. Based on data from their census, this would mean that 8,657 children were affected. Thankfully, the most recent reports coming from the state show that only 43 because have suffered elevated blood lead levels. This is still a relatively high number, but not in comparison to the idea of 8,000 children suffering lead poisoning.
One interesting aspect of the story is where the lead is coming from. According to an October public health declaration from the Genesee County Board of Commissioners, the water from the flint water plant meets all federal standards. They believe that lead in the service lines, can make their way into someone’s household because the water from the Flint River is more corrosive to the pipes than the water from their previous source was.
The water crisis was declared a state of emergency by Governor Snyder on January 5th and within a week the city had mobilized the National Guard to assist with the distribution of bottled water and water filters. By January 15th, President Obama had declared the crisis a federal state of emergency, which freed up about 5 million dollars in federal aid to cover the costs of much needed water, filters, and other items for residents. The city will now be switching back to Detroit’s water supply, but many citizens are still fearful to start drinking the water that comes out of their faucets again.
Featured image courtesy of cnn.com