On April 25, 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, switched its water supply from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River. This switch was the beginning of Flint’s water crisis and it’s still a crisis so many months later. City residents are still unable to drink tap water without a filter due to lead contamination.
“I’m so sick of being dirty,” one Flint resident said. Residents are afraid to use tap water even with proper filters. Instead, they use 8 oz. bottles of water, which have been donated, to bathe in, drink, and cook.
More than 600 lead pipes have been replaced, but a University of Michigan team of researchers say instead of needing to remove up to 10,000 lead service lines, Flint officials may need to remove 20,000 to 25,000 lead lines. Flint has $27 million to remove damaged pipes leaching lead into the drinking water. The researchers say that amount was expected to cover only half of the expected 10,000 lead service line replacements. These new estimates show that the city might need much more than that to remove all the lead service lines in the city.
In comparison, 600 replaced lead pipes seem a pittance in the help Flint residents need after months of lead poisoning levels double the Centers of Disease and Prevention (CDC) limit. (In 2012, CDC updated its limit to 5 micrograms per deciliter which identifies children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children’s levels.) CDC says no safe blood lead level in children has been identified — even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected.
So many months have passed and so many children are still being lead poisoned by Flint’s water crisis. CLEARCorps USA recommends a faster, more complete procedure in remediating lead. The ultimate goal is to protect children in Flint and across a thousand locations in the U.S. with high lead levels.
CLEARCorps USA is focused where it’s needed most — the remediation of lead in our communities. If you have a story you’d like to share, please send it to www.CLEARCorps.org.