Although Michigan officials have asserted there is no problem with the Flint city water supply, doctors are warning that drinking the city’s lead-filled tap water could permanently lower IQ, among other potential problems.
Since the city switched their water source from Detroit to the Flint River, tap water contains double the amount of lead. This is a result of the more corrosive water coming into contact with service lines and city pipes, requiring stricter treatment than the city is providing.
Lead levels in Flint’s drinking water are so high they are defined as hazardous waste, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the Earth’s crust. Its widespread use in modern industries, such as mining, smelting, and manufacturing, has caused extensive environmental contamination and many cases of lead poisoning.
When individuals are exposed, lead is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones, where it accumulates over time. No amount of exposure is considered safe.
Lead poisoning in children can lead to a variety of health issues ranging from learning difficulties to organ damage. Adults exposed to lead are prone to develop hearing complications, experience seizures, kidney damage, memory loss, and miscarriage.
Lead exposure accounts for between 143,000 and 600,000 new cases of children developing intellectual disabilities each year.
Doctors continue to urge pregnant women, senior citizens, and children to stop drinking the tap water. Genessee County has issued a public health advisory.
“The EPA, along with city officials, must exercise their full authority to guarantee that the people of Flint are protected from the hazardous water now flowing into their homes,” says Kary L Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director, in a statement reported by The Guardian.