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  • James Howey

Water Quality Incident Update - Flint, Michigan USA

In April 2014, the drinking water source in Flint, Michigan was switched from Lake Huron water with phosphate inhibitors to Flint River water without corrosion inhibitors. The absence of corrosion control and use of a more corrosive source increased lead leaching from plumbing.

Due to the change in water source, the incidence of elevated blood lead levels increased from 2.4% to 4.9% after water source change, and neighbourhoods with the highest water lead levels experienced a 6.6% increase. (link) The water change was also linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the county infecting 87 people, with 12 cases resulting in fatality. (link)

So far, 15 people have been criminally charged, due to falsifying information, lying to police, wilful neglect of duty, involuntary manslaughter. Those charged come from a range of government departments including managers, chief executives, water quality analysts, public works supervisor, administrators, laboratory and water quality supervisors from Michigan's Department of Health and Human Service, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, City of Flint, Bureau of Epidemiology. The cases are still being tried and the Governor is still in office. (link)

Class actions are also being heard and are likley to have some decisions made in the next month or so.

On April 6, 2018, the state of Michigan closed water distribution centres that have provided residents in Flint for the past three years with bottled water to drink, cook and bathe. This move was based on analysis showing that the city’s water quality had tested below action levels defined in federal drinking water regulations for nearly two years. (link)

Recent articles:

War of words, science still rages over lead contamination in Flint (link)

A July 2018 EPA report found that the EPA should strengthen its oversight of state drinking water programs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency’s response to drinking water contamination emergencies. US EPA Report (link)

Link to the Governor's press release (link)

Open access article on Environmental Science and Technology: Evaluating Water Lead Levels During the Flint Water Crisis (link)

Class Action update -July 2018 (link)

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