Flint poison water was consumed by more than 8,000 children in Michigan. The poison water in Flint was packed with lead, the result of a local treatment plant taking water directly from the Flint River. A report from the Detroit Free Press on Saturday, January 16, states that about 8,657 children in Flint consumed poisoned water from April 2014 to December 2015.
Rumors that the Flint water supply had been contaminated with lead began to surface in December, but the number of children exposed to dangerous levels of lead is staggering. The poisoning began when the city of Flint, Michigan, decided to stop using water from the Detroit water system. That system pumps water out of Lake Huron, but the city decided to use its own treatment plant and take water directly from Flint River. Eden Wells, the state’s chief medical executive, spoke at length about what has happened.
“It is important when we think about a public health perspective that we consider the whole cohort… exposed to the drinking water, especially 6 years and under since April 2014, as exposed, regardless of what their blood level is on Jan. 11.”
Wells addressed that specific point, because current tests won’t reveal just how much lead has traveled throughout the bodies of these children. No matter what the levels of lead are found to be in the bloodstream, lead could have already been absorbed by bones, teeth, and soft tissue within the body. He clarified that no level of lead in the body is safe and that the impact on children, especially in the development of brains, can be quite severe.
The New York Times reported that anger is growing over the situation in Flint and that the Michigan governor has asked President Obama to declare it a disaster. Governor Rick Snyder stated that more than 100,000 people have been “unable to use tap water for drinking, cooking, or bathing.” The report goes on to state that complaints about contamination had been “wrongly brushed aside” for months by state officials, causing the situation to get even worse in Flint.
The situation in Flint, Michigan, has become so dire that residents have told the New York Times that they are considering a move outside of the city. Thousands of people have reportedly shown up to get emergency supplies from fire stations. That includes lead testing kits that air workers have had to ration to Flint residents. Two requests have been sent by the governor to FEMA and the White House, asking for long-term assistance to put in new water pipes and an improved filtration plant. Temporary housing for residents has also been requested.
An additional note from the Detroit Free Press on Saturday, January 16 was added to online publications to update readers and Michigan residents to how health officials are viewing this tragedy. It states, “This article has been updated to clarify the health experts recommend that all of Flint’s children be treated as though they have been exposed to lead.” That’s a dire statement to come from the experts, especially with very few solutions in place to treat children who have been poisoned or to guarantee the situation won’t get worse in Flint.
An editorial written by the Detroit Free Press also implores for the residents of Flint to not be charged for tainted water. The editorial asks for an immediate reimbursement to Flint residents who have had to pay for poisoned water since April 2014. Listed as one of the culprits is the state of Michigan, as it was state officials that “attempted to discredit the doctor who first revealed that Flint’s children had elevated blood-lead levels. Rather than deal with the poisoned Flint water immediately, the states “dragged its feet” in recognizing the catastrophe.
[Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]