Michigan In State Of Emergency After Contaminated Water Causes High Levels Of Lead In Kids

Contaminated Water
The city of Flint, Mich., continues to struggle with water supply issue. maiallen; CC by 2.0

The city of Flint, Mich., made the decision to break away from Detroit’s water system last year, and the city’s residents have been struggling to find clean drinking water ever since. Mayor Karen Weaver declared a State of Emergency on Monday over the dangerously high levels of lead in the city’s drinking water supply.

Assistant to the City Administrator, Sean Kammer, called the city’s current predicament a “man-made disaster caused by the city.” The city’s decision to move away from Detroit’s water supply was made to save money. The switch to water from the Flint River was only supposed to be a temporary measure until a pipeline to Port Huron Lake was built. They didn’t count on the water being improperly treated and it drawing lead from the pipes.

“Mayor Weaver states that this was one of the things she had promised to do while campaigning for mayor,” Krammer said in the statement. “Declaring an emergency intends to help raise awareness of the issue that the water is still not safe to drink and activates the City’s Emergency Support Plan in order to respond to the crisis.

The city’s decision to switch to water from the Flint River was reversed on Oct. 16, 2015. The city has gone back to the Detroit Water and Sewage Department as its source of water, but experts fear the switch may have come to late seeing as lead levels in most Flint homes remain well above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) action level of 15 parts per billion. Flint has set up locations that offer free filtered water.

“Ensuring that families in the Flint area have access to resources that will help reduce the potential for lead exposure is our top priority,” said Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in a statement. “I want to thank our partners who have mobilized to make water filters available — a point that highlights the importance of continued collaboration at the local, state and federal level as we move forward.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to lead at a young age can result in various health concerns, including behavioral problems and learning disabilities. In fact, experts at the CDC say there is “no safe blood level” for childhood lead exposure. Some older residents of Flint have complained about a variety of health concerns potentially tied to water contamination, including itchy skin, rashes, headaches, and their hair falling out.

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