Lead Astray: Why The Toxic Water In Flint, MI Should Concern You, Too
Like air, we all need water to live. And like air, something so vital to life should be free. But what happens when the water flowing freely from your tap is killing you? In October 2015, officials in Michigan declared the water in Flint, Michigan a “public health emergency” after a group of doctors reported high levels of lead in the blood samples in area children. Numerous studies link the neurotoxin to lower IQs and increased emotional and behavioral problems.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), lead levels in Flint’s drinking water are so high they are defined as hazardous waste.
On January 16, 2016 President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency in Flint, freeing up to $5 million in federal aid to immediately assist with the public health crisis, but he denied Gov. Rick Snyder’s request for a disaster declaration.
A disaster declaration would have made larger amounts of federal funding available more quickly to help Flint residents whose drinking water is contaminated with lead. But under federal law, only natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods are eligible for disaster declarations, federal and state officials said. The lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water is a manmade catastrophe, which points back to the lack of movement from the Governor to act when this issue immediately took place.
Since Flint’s water supply was switched from Detroit to the Flint River, a move to potentially save the city $7 million, the tap water now contains twice the amount of lead. Experts cite the smelly, funny tasting and brown corrosive water is releasing lead from old pipes in homes.
This, however, isn’t a new concern – in Flint and many other U.S. cities.