Two government agencies are warning Flint, Michigan, residents that their water still might not be safe, even though they are using the water filters handed out to make it safe. Simply put, the water filters are designed to be a preventative measure – not to head off a crisis such as the one created by the possibly criminal actions by Republican Governor Rick Snyder, the emergency management team, and other Flint government officials.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services, lead levels in some of the water samples taken from homes are still sky high – they contain much more lead than any water filter given to residents is rated to remove.
Too Little Too Late?
The DHHS reported January 29 that many of the water samples tested are coming back with results that prove the water filters are ineffective. Many residents already knew this, though, since most of them can read the boxes the filters come in. Water samples are coming back with levels higher than 150 parts per billion (ppb), but the water filters given to Flint residents can’t handle anything over 150 ppb.
The EPA said, “more than two dozen recent samples exceeded” the 150 ppb lead limit that the water filters can handle, according to the Detroit Free Press. In fact, says the EPA, lead levels,
“Ranged from 153 parts per billion to more than 4,000 parts per billion, were found in 26 of the more than 4,000 samples of unfiltered water collected since late December.”
According to Flint Mayor Karen Weaver via ABC 7, the lead levels in the water samples are concerning. The filters cannot remove all the lead – or even a small fraction of it in some cases.
However, Flint officials want to stress that it is the water that is the problem, not the water filters. The filters are working just as they are intended to work according to government regulations. The lead levels in the water are just too high to counteract with filters.
Why Water Filters Are Necessary
Flint returned to using Detroit’s water, but the damage already done. A cost-cutting measure rejected an anti-corrosive treatment which left the pipes vulnerable, and they became damaged. These pipes are now contaminating clean water too, exacerbating the problem.
The EPA and DHHS suggest that all residents get their water tested – and that pregnant women and children under six should only drink bottled water until the extra testing can be competed and lead levels reduced. Flint residents can test their water with lead testing kits, free of charge at various Flint fire stations city wide.
The Flint water crisis began days after Governor rick Snyder decided to override the emergency management team’s decision to not use the Flint River as the city’s source of water. Then, the decision to not add the anti-corrosive treatment to the water to coat the pipes are just two of many decisions that could be considered criminal acts – especially since federal law mandates the anti-corrosive treatment be used, according to MLive.
The cost cutting measure that helped save Flint a few thousand dollars will now end up costing the city billions of dollars, not to mention possibly costing the around 800,000 Flint residents their health – and many their lives.
Lead is a neurotoxin and its effects are often not seen to their fullest extent until three to five years after the poisoning occurs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a result, the CDC recommends limiting exposure to water that contains more than 15 ppb, “although no level of lead is considered safe.”
The truly tragic part of this who crisis is that lead poisoning is 100 percent preventable, according to the CDC, but no one knows how many children and families will suffer as a result of the Republican agenda that helped make the Flint Water Crisis possible.