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New Tests Show Dangerous Lead Contamination in Flint Water

Shironosov via Thinkstock / Andrea Love, Banana 101.5

Flint’s water woes continue as new test results show that a large sampling of the liquid coming from local faucets contains dangerous levels of lead and is “very corrosive.”

So there’s lead in all of Flint’s water?

Not exactly. The new test results from Virginia Tech University are somewhat technical and very scientific (obviously), so we’ll boil it down for you. The water supply itself is not contaminated with dangerous levels of lead, but it is so corrosive that it leeches the hazardous metal from old pipes that are made of or soldered with it. One of the researchers said, in very plain terms, “The Flint water just ate the pipe up.”

How many homes even have lead pipes still?

You might be surprised at the answer. Researchers have begun testing water samples from homes in Flint, and of the 120 they have already tested — 42% contained levels of lead that indicate “a serious lead-in-water problem.” 20% of the samples contained such high levels of lead that they exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety limit.

Are there health risks associated with lead-contaminated water?

Absolutely. According to the EPA, “at low levels, lead may cause a range of health effects, including behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk because this is when the brain is developing. Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.”

So what is being done about it?

Currently, not a whole lot. Many residents are urging the city to reconnect to Detroit’s water supply, but that would be very costly for something we’d only need for less than a year. Our water will be coming from Lake Huron via the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline as soon as construction is finished, which could be as early as next June.

How can I find out if my water is safe?

In a statement released yesterday (9/2/15), Mayor Dayne Walling urged residents to use the free, independent water safety testing the city has been offering since spring. The City of Flint website says, “Anyone with water issues is encouraged to call 810-766-7202 so that they can be addressed. Residents wishing to receive a free and independent in-home water test can call 810-787-6537 or email flintwater@cityofflint.com.”

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