Elevated Lead: Michigan Water May Not Be Safe To Drink, Children Being Tested For Lead Poisoning

Children residing in Flint, Michigan, are having tests done in order to determine if they are suffering from lead poisoning. The water supply in Flint may be tainted with lead. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, leader of the pediatric residency program at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, comments about what she has found.

"I was hoping not to find anything, but what we found … is concerning. This is not something you mess around with. Our population already has so many issues from poverty, from unemployment, from violence."
State officials are claiming that the tests they are running do not compare to the ones that Dr. Hanna-Attisha has been doing. Michigan officials also claim that the lead that is in the water is within the limit regarded as safe. The Michigan children that are being tested for lead has shown that in the last 20 months, the amount of lead that appears in children doubled from two percent to four percent. In some areas, that number has tripled to over six. Dr. Hanna-Attisha compared her results of the lead levels found in the children of Flint, Michigan, and compared them to children's labs drawn from outside of Flint. The results were that the blood tests from outside of Flint did not show any increase in the lead level in the blood of the children tested.

Michigan officials do not have a definitive answer as to why the lead levels in the water in Flint are elevated. The only thing that has changed recently is the water supply from which residents in Flint are now getting their water. In 2014, Flint ended the contract for service with the Detroit Water and Sewage Department. The reason for the termination was due to the cost for the service which was too high of a price that Flint was willing to pay. Flint, Michigan, is eventually going to be getting their water from Karegnondi Water Authority. The KWA is in the process of building a system that allows them to get water from Lake Huron. The system will not be operational until sometime in 2016. How are the Michigan residents getting water now?

Image via Mlive.com
Image via Mlive.com

The residents of Flint are pulling their water directly from the Flint River. Residents quickly complained that the water was not right, and was making some people sick. Initial tests ran on the water from the Flint River showed a positive result for coliform bacteria. The presence of this bacteria alone suggests that other microorganisms that are not safe for consumption are in the Michigan river water.

Officials treated the water and claim the water is safe for human consumption. The theory about where the lead is coming from is due to the corrosiveness of the river water. It is thought that, as the water is flowing through the lead piping, that it is allowing the lead from the pipe to be absorbed and mixed into the water supply. Officials still maintain that the amount of lead in the water is within the acceptable limits, 15 parts per billion. The state of Michigan is now sending $1 million in aid so that the residents drinking the lead-laced water can buy a filtration system for themselves. Governor Rick Snyder announced the release of the fund on Friday. Snyder also gave a statement about the health emergency going on in this Michigan city.

Image via Michigan.Gov
Image via Michigan.Gov
"It appears from the data that there are some serious issues and concerns with what happens when that water reaches the home."
Now, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is trying to convince the residents of Flint that the water is safe to drink and the filtering will work until the new system comes online in 2016.

What are your thoughts on the elevated lead levels in the Michigan water?

[Image via Michiganradio.org]