The levels of lead in Flint, Michigan’s water tested below the federal limit in a recent six-month study, the state department that oversees water quality announced Tuesday, reported CNN. But residents are still being told to use filtered water. The city’s residents welcome the good news as they have been struggling with one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.
Flint’s water crisis was declared a federal emergency last year when Flint children, particularly in the poorest neighborhoods, were found to have elevated blood lead levels (which can cause irreversible brain damage) and 12 deaths were linked to Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia caused by waterborne bacteria, reports Gizmodo.
In an email to Mayor Karen Weaver, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality said yesterday that the 90th percentile of lead concentration in Flint’s water—in other words, the lead levels in the most contaminated water samples—has fallen by 12 parts per billion, below the “action level” of 15 ppb. Six months prior, the AP reports, the 90th percentile of lead concentration was 20 ppb.
While those in charge tout their efforts of working together at all levels of governments, It took years to get to this point, and 2000 more children were recently diagnosed with lead poisoning.
“The remarkable improvement in water quality over the past year is a testament to all levels of government working together and the resilient people of Flint helping us help them,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “There is still more work to do in Flint, and I remain committed to helping the residents recover and restore their city.”
“This is good news and the result of many partners on the local, county, state and federal levels working together to restore the water quality in the City of Flint,” said MDEQ Director Heidi Grether. “The Flint water system is one of the most monitored systems in the country for lead and copper, and we remain committed to continuing work in Flint as the city recovers.”
The MDEQ letter also outlines an ongoing plan to continue collecting samples and replacing lead pipes, which it said were a “typical source of contaminant.” It’s certainly relieving, but not all residents are convinced that the danger of contaminated drinking water has passed.
Flint resident Melissa Mays told the Associated Press, “means nothing. There’s still lead in the system. Especially with disruptions, main breaks — pieces of lead scale will be breaking off until these pipes are replaced.”You cannot tell me the water is safe because you have not tested every home.”
Gizmodo reported, “The contamination crisis in Flint began after the city changed its water source from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the Flint River, which channeled water to the community via old pipes that reportedly hadn’t been treated with corrosion inhibitors. This improper treatment caused lead to leach from aging pipes into the water supply, affecting an estimated 6,000 to 12,000 children with lead.”
In December, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced felony charges against four officials for their misconduct in helping to cause the water crisis, raising the total number of government employees held responsible to 13.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)