How childrens’ elevated BLLs increased to 5.0%.
How did Flint’s water contamination happened?For the past three years, the city of Flint Michigan has been without clean water in their system. Their water has been contaminated with unsafe levels of lead since April of 2014 due to the switch of their water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The water from the Flint River was reported to be “highly corrosive to iron and lead,” which are the materials used in pipes widely throughout Flint. (Shelson 2016) This has caused the lead particles of the pipe to leach into the water and contaminate it. Has this had effects on people’s health?In Flint, “elevated blood lead levels” are said to have risen in children under age 6 after the switch of the water source. Blood lead levels were reported to have dropped when an advisory was issued, and dropped again when the city has switched back to its initial water source, Lake Huron, in 2015 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (Franki 2016) These results were gathered by local pediatrician, Mona Hanna-Attisha. It shows that the year before the city’s switch, which was during the period of April 2013-April 2014, it is reported that “3.1% of blood levels (BLL) in children under age 6 years were 5 mcg/dL,” which is considered elevated by the CDC. (Franki 2016). After the water source switch to the Flint River, but before the advisory, which was April 2014-January 2015, the childrens’ elevated BLLs increased to 5.0%. This analysis involved the results of 9,422 tests on 7,306 children. In another investigation conducted by Virginia Tech professor and researcher, Marc Edwards, it is suggested that the water change is a possible cause of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ diseases, which has killed at least 12 people in Flint since 2014. Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory disease that spreads through a mist from a contaminated water source. This is suggested since iron corrosion consumes chlorine, and chlorine is used to disinfect water and prevent growth of microorganisms that cause disease. Edwards has now found a matching strain of the Legionella bacteria “between the city’s water system and three patients who were diagnosed.” These findings have led to more questions from the people of Flint and have left the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services saying they “will carefully consider” this new information. (Ganim 2017) How was this handled by city agencies and state officials? As soon as complaints surrounding water quality began to arise, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) determined that the water “did not immediately need to be treated.” They instead decided that the city should “complete two 6-month monitoring periods” before the MDEQ determines “whether corrosion control was necessary,” (Shelson 2016). In October 2014, the use of water from the Flint River was ceased “due to corrosion concerns related to chloride levels in water.”(Shelson 2016) Then towards the end of October 2015, the Governor of Michigan appointed the Flint Water Advisory Task Force (FWATF) to “conduct an independent review of the contamination of the Flint water supply,” in which they investigate the situation and how to prevent a problem like this in the future. (Shelson 2016)How could this have been treated?This situation could have been treated with corrosion control, where an anti-corrosive agent is used to limit the deterioration of the lead pipes. The Flint River lacked the anti-corrosive agent called orthophosphate, which was used in Lake Huron. Cities use orthophosphate since it “encourages the formation of lead phosphates, which are largely insoluble and can add to the pipes’ passivation layer,” which prevents lead particles from leaching into the water supply. (Shelson 2016) WC: 618