The Flint Water crisis brought lead levels to the forefront but the problem goes beyond Flint. To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible. If you would like to opt out of browser push notifications, please refer to the following instructions specific to your device and browser: How Sick Are the Kids in Flint? We shifted that IQ curve down. Learn more about the U-M School of Public Health response to the Flint Water Crisis. Criminal charges are pending against more than a dozen state and local officials, including multiple felony charges against some of the state-appointed emergency managers. The Flint water crisis is an ongoing public health crisis that started in 2014, after the drinking water source for the city of Flint, Michigan, was contaminated.In April 2014, Flint changed its water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water (sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River) to the Flint River.Officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors to the water. What makes the Flint water crisis a scandal is the evidence that mismanagement by city and state officials was ultimately to blame for most of the problems and health consequences suffered by the citizens. In August and September of 2014, the city of Flint issued boil water advisories because the water was tainted with coliform bacteria, also known as E. coli. (Credit: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health), The Flint water crisis and its health consequences. Although lead exposure is dangerous for all people, research indicates that pregnant and nursing women and their infants are especially vulnerable to prenatal and postnatal lead exposure. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, involved the contamination of the municipal water supply with toxic lead and dangerous bacteria. Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information. Text us for exclusive photos and videos, royal news, and way more. The General Motors automobile factory located in Flint was for many years the company’s largest, but the weakness of the American auto industry caused a decline in the city’s fortunes starting in the 1980s. “This is something I couldn’t prevent. Mays also has diverticulitis, a digestive disease, which she blames on the lead. Government officials from Weaver to Gov. Flint returned to drawing water from its Detroit source in October 2015. • With additional reporting by Ellen Piligian. Environmental Health in Michigan: Flint Water Crisis Updated: 7/6/2018. The water crisis that gripped the city of Flint, Michigan, in 2014 and 2015—and which is still felt to the present day—became one of the most notorious and scandalous public health disasters in recent United States history. Lead is a neurotoxin that has a particularly damaging effect on children. Exposure to lead-tainted water can also cause long-term health impacts. ), all the way to President Barack Obama, who visited in May, have appeared before audiences drinking glasses of Flint water in bids to prove its safety. In response to the coliform bacteria reports, Flint officials increased the amount of antibacterial chlorine used to treat the water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets a limit of 15 parts per billion for lead in drinking water, but because lead and other heavy metals accumulate within the body, no level of lead exposure is considered perfectly safe. “It just kept on getting worse and worse over time,” Mays tells PEOPLE. 104.232.27.237 Updated October 12, 2019 Toward the end of last year, headlines blared news of the high levels of lead turning up in the blood of children in Flint, Michigan , a struggling industrial suburb of Detroit. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, speaking at a press conference while in Washington, D.C., to attend a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, noted the impact of the crisis on children’s health and the frustrating uncertainty her residents face over a basic need – access to clean water. ... Health Effects of Lead. 34% of individuals self-reported symptoms of anxiety and 29% self-reported symptoms of depression. That’s what I’m going to be mad about. “It’s come to … Their symptoms include anemia, memory loss, brain fog and fatigue. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has been well documented—from its effects on the health of the community to its origins with an unaccountable emergency manager who shifted the city’s water source to save money. Privacy Notice. Health and Science How one economic decision in Flint caused a health crisis. You may already have access to this content. Additional credits and copyright information. Credit: More significantly, the corrosiveness of the water leached lead out of old pipes used throughout the city. If I have allergies, should I still get the vaccine?. One of the decisions made during this time was to reduce the city’s water bill by switching suppliers from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) to the Karegnondi Water Authority, via a new tunnel to be bored to Lake Huron. Another aspect of justice for Flint residents involves acknowledging that racism played a role in the water crisis, and working to dismantle racism. Today, Mays, her husband and three children all suffer from longterm heavy metals poisoning. The Mays family’s story is a common one in the city of Flint. Exposed children are at risk for a number of problems, including lower IQ scores, developmental delays, and behavioral issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder… That’s why Dr. Hanna-Attisha can’t predict the future of their well-being. Intestinal E. coli infections can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration, with complications such as kidney failure, and they are most dangerous for children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. We could have lost the next kid who had a cure for cancer.”. Recent tests of the water in Flint homes generally find that the quality is well within federal safety standards, but the trust of Flint’s citizens in their water has been slow to rebound. Because of Flint’s poor finances, it was put into receivership and managed by state officials between 2011 and 2015. See also: Lake; River; Water-borne disease; Water resources, Shortly after the switchover to Flint River water, city residents began to complain that their water had an unpleasant smell, taste, and orange discoloration. https://doi.org/10.1036/1097-8542.BR0119171, Childhood lead exposure and lead toxicity, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2016.12.002, https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.estlett.6b00192, Flint Water Study: Flint Water Advisory Task Force (Final Report), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Flint Drinking Water Documents, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Flint Safe Drinking Water Task Force Draft Lead in Drinking Water — Preliminary Assessment, Additional credits and copyright information. “Lead in your blood only lasts 20 to 30 days,” she says. Flint stopped obtaining water from the DWSD in April 2014, but because the new Lake Huron supply was not yet available, the city adopted an interim measure of drawing water from the nearby Flint River. The bacteria, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms, suggest that the water supply was contaminated with either human or … “We worry about lead because of what it does to your whole life course trajectory,” she tells PEOPLE. Flint switched its public water source in April 2014, increasing exposure to lead and other contaminants. FLINT, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 4: Azariah Hawthorne, … The Flint Water Crisis Has A Wellness Design Component. The maximum concentration allowed by law is 15 ppb. M. Hanna-Attisha et al., Elevated blood lead levels in children associated with the Flint drinking water crisis: A spatial analysis of risk and public health response. Lead poisoning poses serious and even fatal threats to the nervous system and kidneys at every age, but high lead levels are especially dangerous for children under the age of six, whose physical and mental development may be permanently stunted. (U.S. Air Force/Ray Crayton) In early 2014, Flint, Michigan, officials decided to save the cash-strapped city some money by switching the city’s water supply from Detroit’s water system to the city’s local river. It drops your IQ. Walters then rushed to get her children tested and the results confirmed all four had been exposed to lead. L. J. Butler et al., The Flint, Michigan, water crisis: A case study in regulatory failure and environmental injustice. It doesn t tell you what the levels were when this was at its worst.”. I couldn’t protect him from getting lead.”. During the summer of 2014, Melissa Mays had no clue why her hair started falling out and her back and muscles ached. Copyright © McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings, LLC. By October 2014, General Motors had stopped using Flint’s municipal water out of concern that it corroded sensitive engine parts. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 46 Nobel Prize winners. LeeAnne Walters, who joined forces with Mays to create Water You Fighting For, a website to inform citizens of their continued research into the water crisis, has had similar experiences. In Flint, tests showed that the lead levels in the water in some homes was many times the EPA-recommended maximum. The extent of the lead contamination problem in Flint’s water at its worst is uncertain and controversial, but a preliminary report issued by a research team from Virginia Tech found that 40% of homes in Flint might have high lead levels. The final report of the Flint Water Advisory Task Force, released March 23, 2016, described the crisis as “a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, inaction, and environmental injustice.” It faulted Michigan state agencies for failing to enforce drinking water regulations in Flint, failing to take appropriate measures to prevent the foreseeable pipe corrosion problems, and discrediting efforts to bring attention to the early evidence of tainted water and lead contamination. Rick Snyder (R–Mich. Flint was to join the Karegnondi Water Authority but drew water from the Flint River in the interim period. For other mothers, including Darlene Bello, 41, the unknown is frightening – and the guilt is the most painful. Those problems, which officials seem to have addressed inadequately, soon translated into a variety of health threats for Flint’s citizens. Samples of Flint's drinking water proved to be filled with disease-causing bacteria, carcinogens, and lead. Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Get push notifications with news, features and more. "If we are not at the doctor, we're in bed, worried about bone loss, bone breakage, dental issues," mom of three, Melissa Mays, tells PEOPLE. Unsafe levels of lead have been found in nearly 2,000 communities across the country and many of the most dangerous levels have been found in schools and day care centers. this link is to an external site that may or may not meet accessibility guidelines. See also: Environmental toxicology; Lead; Water supply engineering, According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Flint is a city of almost 100,000 people where more than 40 percent live below the poverty line. Although the most acute health consequences of the crisis may be over, the long-term effects, particularly from the lead exposure, may take years to emerge. Inside the Shocking Health Effects of the Devastating Water Crisis. Because of damage to corroded plumbing, some residents still filter their water to remove impurities or use bottled water for drinking, cooking, and routine hygiene. Their symptoms include anemia, memory loss, brain fog and fatigue. On April 25, 2014, the City of Flint, Michigan changed their municipal water supply source from the Detroit-supplied Lake Huron water to the Flint … The Flint Water Crisis began in 2013 when the city of Flint, Michigan, voted to end its water contract with Detroit. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a public health pediatrician whose research exposed the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, answers questions about the vaccine and allergies, and when kids might be able to get the vaccine. In August 2014, tests detected fecal coliform bacteria (E. coli) in the water reaching some Flint neighborhoods, leading to the first of two temporary advisories that the water be boiled before use. Regina H. Boone/Detroit Free Press/Zuma. The harmful effects of lead exposure on children's health are well-documented. Elected officials denied for over a year that the city’s water was also contaminated with lead, but they finally admitted that the water wasn’t safe in September 2015. The immediate cause was the contamination of the municipal water supply with toxic lead and dangerous bacteria, but the true cause is widely considered to be colossal mismanagement and unsound cost-cutting measures imposed on the city. FLINT, Mich. — Health care workers are scrambling to help the people here cope with what many fear will be chronic consequences of the city’s water contamination crisis: profound stress, worry… See also: Escherichia; Escherichia coli outbreaks; Water treatment, The levels of chlorine and other corrosive compounds in the Flint River water caused further problems. “Learning from the Flint Water Crisis: Protecting the Public’s Health During a Financial Emergency” (January 2018) (PDF). Tests ordered in August revealed E. coli was in Flint’s water, and parts of the city were ordered to boil the water before drinking it. The final version of an EPA report on testing at three Flint homes issued in November 2015 noted that “even with corrosion control treatment in place in the future, physical disturbances will be capable of dislodging the high lead-bearing scale and sediment from non-lead pipes as well as lead pipes.” See also: Childhood lead exposure and lead toxicity; Chlorine; Corrosion; Poison, Health officials noted that the number of cases of Legionnaires disease (Legionella) around Flint rose atypically during 2014 and 2015, claiming 10 lives. Any use is subject to the Terms of Use. One of her kids got so sick that he missed a month of school, and “at one point, they told us he had cancer because they didn’t know what was going on.”. “All of the testing that is going on now doesn t reflect past exposure. Toxicity can also occur long after exposure has ended. Flint's drinking water was at the center of a public health crisis that began in the city in April 2014, when the water supply was switched from the city of Detroit to the Flint River. Flint Water Crisis Michigan – 2016 National Center for Environmental Health Division of Environmental Health Science and Practice What was the need? Researchers from the Hurley Medical Center announced in September 2015 that the number of children in Flint with excess blood lead levels had doubled since the switch to Flint River water, and that the levels had tripled in neighborhoods with the highest lead contamination in their water. Flint Water Crisis The impoverished city of Flint, Michigan is currently facing a lead poisoning crisis that is threatening the health and well being of more than 26,000 children. The 37-year-old mother of four began to notice that her hair was thinning, she had erratic blood pressure and her children started to get rashes over their body soon after she gave them baths. People exposed to Flint's lead-tainted drinking water can now sign up for registry We find that Flint fertility rates decre … She had an employee of the city test her tap water, which revealed it had nearly 400 parts per billion (of lead). 22.5% of households reporting difficulties getting access to behavioral health services. Mays did know one thing about her symptoms: They began after Flint, Michigan’s water supply was switched from the Detroit River to the Flint River in April of that year. The chemistry of the water from the Flint River caused lead to corrode in the pipes of homes and businesses. It also blamed other public officials, including the state governor, for not reversing the bad decisions made in the management of the crisis more promptly. Runoff in the Flint River watershed contained a variety of pollutants, including industrial compounds, pesticides, fertilizers, and fecal bacteria. We compare the change in the fertility rate and in health at birth in Flint before and after the water switch to the changes in other cities in Michigan. This was intended as a short-term money-saving measure as the city prepared to connect to the new regional water system. The Flint, Michigan water crisis raised awareness about the dangers of lead-tainted drinking water and the role of the nurse in addressing such a crisis. When disaster hit, no one was prepared for the disappointing explanations and the course of action taken at the time, a poor decision-making process leading to a … Key, who drafted the resolution to declare racism a public health crisis in Genesee County, said there needs to be a national movement to do that. MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology, 115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 3000 biographies of notable scientific figures, MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics, ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists, SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research, LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information. Although the Flint River had served as the city’s backup water source for many years and had been the primary source of water early in the 20th century, it had historically suffered from poor quality, especially in more recent decades. / Living the American nightmare is what the residents of Flint have been experiencing in the last few years, the water crisis that hit the city having long-term repercussions on the health of inhabitants, in severe cases even leading to deaths. There’s no overlooking the political issues associated with the water crisis in Flint, Michigan but the simple fact is that political infighting and stalled legislative action is only a small part of the expanding picture in Flint.. Dozens of people became sick with Legionnaires' disease, with at least dozen people dying of the pneumonia-like illness. Parents are on earth to protect their kids. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint, says that the instances of lead poisoning doubled – and in some cases tripled – in some areas of the city after the water supply was switched. Compounding the scandal is the fact that the population of Flint is disproportionately poor and African-American, suggesting to many critics that such mismanagement might not have occurred in a place with a wealthier, whiter population. In the Flint, Michigan, water investigation, the state's attorney general says he's appointing a former prosecutor and Detroit's former FBI chief. Find out what your cat is trying to tell you with a new cat app, Princess Diana died when Harry was just 12 years old, Engineer Creates App To Translate Your Cat, The Sweetest Photos of Princes Harry with Diana, Sean Connery's Cause of Death Revealed Weeks After He Dies at Age 90. In an effort to save money, the city switched its water supply from the Detroit River to the Flint River. Briefing by: She says that all of the kids affected, which could be around 9,000, might need special education services, and while children in Flint are still getting tested for lead, she stresses that the results don t accurately portray how sick they could be. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services maintains that no clear connection between this outbreak and the Flint water crisis has been established, but the family of one of the Legionella victims has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials and a regional medical center. Childhood exposure is linked to reduced developmental and biological processes impacting intelligence, behavior, and life achievement. Then one night, she had a seizure in her sleep. The Flint water crisis has exposed a failure by government authorities to ensure the safety of drinking water … Throughout the water crisis, institutional acknowledgement of health issues stemming from the water supply was often delayed. You'll get the latest updates on this topic in your browser notifications. Accessibility policy. But it was just the beginning of the city’s devastating water crisis. Exposure to low quality water has some dangerous health implications, especially for small children and people with weakened immune systems. That summer, she also ran a bath for her niece and immediately noticed the color of the water coming out of her bathtub faucet was “pure yellow.”. Mays also has diverticulitis, a digestive disease, which she blames on the lead. “It’s come to the point where it’s taken over our entire lives,” says Mays, who also thinks she might now have lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. “We won’t see the [developmental issues] yet,” she says. “If we are not at the doctor, we’re in bed, worried about bone loss, bone breakage, dental issues.”. Many Flint residents complained of skin irritation and other health problems. 51% of households felt that the physical health of at least one member had worsened due to Flint water crisis. “It impacts a lot. AccessScience Editors, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1036/1097-8542.BR0119171, The water crisis that gripped the city of Flint, Michigan, in 2014 and 2015—and which is still felt to the present day—became one of the most notorious and scandalous public health disasters in recent United States history. Coyote Ugly Turns 20: Where Is the Cast Now? The Flint water crisis and its health consequences. Introducing ... PEOPLE's Products Worth the Hype. Your IP information is All rights reserved. See also: Legionnaires' disease; Public health. Read about what can be done. In conclusion, the Flint water crisis emerged due to various setbacks that majorly can be linked with the management department of the water systems in Flint town. So imagine what was potentially done to an entire population of children. Residents of Flint, Michigan, were forced to drink donated bottled water or face devastating consequences from contaminated water. 198.71.238.15, Water can be contaminated by chemicals or other foreign substances that are detrimental to human health. V. Morckel, Why the Flint, Michigan, USA water crisis is an urban planning failure. For example, the administration of the city and water agencies in Flint kept giving the residents empty promises instead of taking initiative and investigating the real causes of water contamination. 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