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Fighting for Water Quality in Flint, Michigan


On October 18, 2015, NPR’s Michael Martin interviewed Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician and researcher who sounded the alarm on lead levels in the Flint, Michigan, water supply.

Hanna-Attisha’s research focused on children in the Flint area – the demographic most at risk from lead exposure. She discovered an alarming increase in blood-lead levels occurred after the city switched water supplies.

Government officials initially dismissed Hanna-Attisha’s concerns, but she eventually convinced them that the only factor that had changed in Flint’s environment was the new water supply. As she wryly commented during the interview, “Nothing else happened in this community. There is no large soil evacuation project. Every kid in Flint didn’t start becoming a stained glass lead enthusiast.”

Michigan has allocated $9 million to solve the problem, but for those children already exposed to lead, the damage has been done. Once lead enters a child’s system, it causes irreversible damage. Children exposed to even low levels of lead can develop a host of serious problems, including the following:

  • Behavioral disorders
  • Decreased muscle growth
  • Impaired intelligence
  • Kidney damage
  • Learning disabilities
  • Nervous system damage
  • Speech and language impairment

Lead is a neurotoxin, meaning it can cross the blood-brain barrier. In children, the blood-brain barrier does not fully develop until age 6, placing the very young at high risk of lead’s devastating effects. Dr. Hanna-Attisha expressed concern that formula-fed infants in Flint were especially at risk as they are being exposed to lead from tap water at an early and important stage of development.

Adults are larger and have fully developed bodies and brains, so they are not as vulnerable to the toxin’s effects. This does not, however, mean adults are immune to lead. High levels of lead exposure can still cause serious harm, such as the following:

  • Damage to fetus during pregnancy
  • Digestive problems
  • Fertility problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of pregnancy complications and illness
  • Loss of concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Nerve disorders

Flint isn’t the only city facing an increase in lead and other contaminants in drinking water. During the interview Martin pointed out that lead levels were “higher than is optimal” in many U.S. cities. Given the removal of lead from paint and gasoline, this begs the question: What source exposes children in these cities to the toxin?

While water supplies may not be the cause in all cases, it seems only logical to test water for lead levels and to take appropriate steps should the neurotoxin be present. Such testing takes time however, and as Hanna-Attisha notes, it often comes too late to help children already exposed.

If you have concerns about lead levels in your drinking water, we recommend talking to one of our skilled Pelican Water representatives at 1-888-575-2029 to discover how you can protect your family from water-borne contaminants. Because when it comes to lead, you can’t afford to wait. Pelican Water has drinking water systems that are NSF certified starting as low as $99 that reduce lead in water by 97%.

Disclaimer: The information on this website has not been reviewed by the FDA. Products offered for sale herein are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. No medical claims are being made or implied. Contaminants mentioned are not necessarily in your water.

Issues with water quality in Flint, Michigan

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