Flint’s water supply has been called “hazardous waste” by the EPA. Flint water officials filed certified documents claiming that officials only tested tap water from homes that had the highest risk of lead poisoning. Recently though, records acquired by The Flint Journal-MLive show those claims were false. Now, residents of Flint say that the false claims may have caused a delay in fixing Flint’s water, causing their children to become poisoned by lead.
Lead exposure can have permanent effects including cognitive problems, health troubles, and behavioral issues, including a propensity toward violent behavior. The World Health Organization says, “lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment. Lead exposure also causes anemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs. The neurological and behavioral effects of lead are believed to be irreversible.”
Residents say Flint is in the middle of a very complicated situation and blame is being thrown around from all sides. One thing that is certain, though, some residents in Flint have been exposed to lead from the city’s water supply, and parents are heartbroken knowing that some of the exposure could have been prevented if everyone had been working in their children’s best interests.
A state of emergency has been declared over the fallout from Flint’s water fiasco. Blood tests have shown dangerous levels of lead in the blood of some Flint children.
“The City of Flint has experienced a Manmade disaster,” Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said, officially declaring Flint in a State of Emergency.
The story has a diverse cast of characters.
The graphic above should also include many major activist from the Democracy Defense League, Flint Water Class Action Group, and others that make up the Coalition for Clean Water, according to Angle Smith. Without these activists and the persistence of residents, many say Flint would still be accessing water directly from the Flint River.
In Flint, Mich., there’s so much lead in children’s blood that a state of emergency is declared https://t.co/FYyKyr8C16
— Selena Larson (@selenalarson) December 15, 2015
Across the nation, people are outraged that children have been exposed to this toxin, especially amid new allegation that the situation could have been dealt with sooner.
— Jenny Webster (@JaneKnowIt_All) December 15, 2015
So LA will close schools due to an email threat but children in Flint have been poisoned by water and nothing has been done?
— Amy (@VaultDwellerN7) December 15, 2015
My hometown of Flint MI can’t ever catch a break! Now there is lead in the public water supply you can’t drink it! https://t.co/gu1Pilt9VV
— Shawn G. Chittle (@ShawnChittle) December 15, 2015
Blood is boiling: In Flint, Mich., there’s so much lead in children’s blood that a state of emergency is declared https://t.co/KGQxHRE5SP
— Dani (@tweet4dani) December 15, 2015
The current mayor of Flint was elected after her predecessor, Dayne Walling, faced significant fallout from how his administration handled the city’s water supply problems. The current mayor says that she seeks federal support in order to deal with the “irreversible” effects of lead exposure on the children of Flint. All evidence indicated the city’s children will have a more significant need for special education and mental health services. Sadly, lead’s effects on the human brain are such that experts believe that Flint will also need to put resources into the juvenile justice system as well.
Flint Mayor declares state of emergency pic.twitter.com/8cpSduQ6Sq
— Dave Bondy (@DaveBondyTV) December 15, 2015
In April 2014, residents began complaining about the water supply in Flint, but city and state officials initially said that the water supply was safe. Eventually, the state did issue a notice informing Flint residents that the water supply was contaminated with unlawful levels of trihalomethanes, which are a chlorine byproduct linked to diseases including cancer.
@daniecal I’m so glad this story is finally making national news. It’s an outrage. All Americans deserve safe water. https://t.co/czcRLbAANR
— Kathleen Bachynski (@bachyns) December 15, 2015
After significant public pressure mounted, Gov. Rick Snyder finally announced in October that Flint would be getting their water from the Detroit system again. Though residents were happy to no longer be getting their water from the Flint River, they are furious that action was not taken sooner, and heartbroken that so many of the city’s children will now face so many difficulties due to exposure to lead from the water supply.
— The Detroit News (@detroitnews) December 15, 2015
Residents indicate that this fix and even the declaration of the state of emergency comes to late. Some children are already permanently affected by the water supply. In November, some Flint residents filed a class-action federal lawsuit against the governor, the state, the city and 13 other public officials stating that these individuals “deliberately deprived” them of their 14th Amendment rights by using water that was known to be toxic in the water supply. The complaint stated that for more than a year and a half, these individuals ignored evidence that the Flint River was poisoning residents. The complaint called the officials’ conduct “so egregious and so outrageous that it shocks the conscience.” Rachel Maddow reported that the responsibility for the tragedy falls onto Gov. Rick Snyder for appointing city management that opted to use the Flint River as the primary water source.
“I was hysterical,” LeeAnn Walters told the Free Press, about learning that her children’s lives have been permanently affected by the water supply. “I cried when they gave me my first lead report.”
Mike Glasgow, Flint’s Utilities Administrator, ran a test on Walters’ water.
“About a week later I got the results and it was pretty high for lead, so I called her right away to let her know,” Glasgow told Michigan Radio. He left her a voice mail.
“Hi Lee Anne, it’s Mike from the Water Department. I just wanted to call and let you know we got your test back. Please, whatever you do, don’t let your kids drink the water. Don’t make their juice with it. And please just give me a phone call back as soon as possible.”
One of LeeAnn’s children, four-year-old Gavin, ended up with lead poisoning.
— Michigan Radio (@MichiganRadio) December 15, 2015
While many are heartbroken and angry, not everyone is hopeless.
“We have a very unique opportunity at secondary prevention; an opportunity to use this exposure to build a model public health program that can mitigate this exposure and lift all our kids,” Flint pediatrician Dr. Hanna-Attisha explained to Michigan Radio. “We are advocating for every kind of evidence-based resource for our kids – early education, nutrition, public health, home visiting programs, positive parenting, etc. – to combat this toxic stress and adverse childhood experience.”