The state of Michigan took over the management of the city of Flint in 2014 and decided to switch the city’s water from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept. water to water from the notoriously polluted Flint River. This was a human rights travesty. The population suffered health problems that included rashes, hair loss and vision problems. Still, the state managers insisted the water was safe. Then in August 2015, Virginia Tech scientist Marc Edwards, PhD, discovered some of Flint’s tap water was contaminated with astronomically high levels of lead. Toxins, including high levels of trihalomethanes (a carcinogenic byproduct from water treatment and dangerous bacteria such as E-coli and Legionella) were found in the water. Legionella is suspected of causing an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease as published by The New Yorker.
The U.S. has been lax on the lead regulations for a long time and Washington DC was also plagued with lead-contaminated water. At least 350 schools and day care centers across the U.S. test above the EPA’s action level for lead content in water. European countries began banning the use of lead in consumer goods in the early 1900’s but the U.S. still doesn’t take a firm stance against it. How does that make sense and why is the U.S. not concerned about this? The League of Nations banned lead-based paint in 1922 while the US allowed its use for decades and wasn’t banned until 1978. The U.S. actually introduced leaded gasoline in 1923 and this greed-riddled move nearly had unfathomable results for the global community. Non-toxic alternatives were available, but using lead allowed the oil industry to rake in higher profits, trading human health for dollars in Flint. Our government at work again! The Michigan officials are now being criminally charged over the Flint Water Crisis.
The whistle was blown on lead-contaminated water in Washington, D.C. back in 2003. Some of the lead levels in the water were high enough to be classified as hazardous waste, and as many as 42,000 children under the age of 2 may have been poisoned by lead-contaminated water in Washington DC between 2000 and 2004. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was well aware of this contamination and kept it hidden. Instead of protecting the public health, the problem is swept under the rug.
Lead contamination is more widespread than it was ever realized because municipalities have dragged their feet when it comes to replacing old water pipes and they aren’t even aware there’s a problem with their water. A recent investigation reveals that at least 350 schools and day care centers across the U.S. test above the EPA’s “action levels” for lead content in water. One Maine elementary school tested 41 times above the action level and a bathroom sink in Caroline Elementary School had a level of 5,000 ppb. This is the cutoff level at which the EPA considers it “toxic waste”. Isn’t that just wonderful that our kids are subjected to these unhealthy elements? Of course other lead poisoning comes from runoff from agriculture, industrial discharges, firefighting foam, mercury discharges from dental offices, water fluoridation, fracking operations and toxic waste from concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO’s).
Protect your family in several ways. If your home was built before 1978, get it inspected for lead paint. Lead removal should be completed by a certified professional to ensure safety. Get your water tested for lead and remember certain household objects may contain lead. Get your child tested for lead between ages 1 and 2, then again at ages 3 and 4 if you live in an older home. A level of 5 or higher is considered dangerous. Filter your tap water and have your water tested if you use well water. Take lead poisoning seriously and take actions to protect your family from this threat.
Vow to live safely and healthy.