Why Pediatricians Are Freaking Out Over The Lead In Flint’s Water

In early 2014, residents in Flint, Michigan, started noticing something odd about their water.

It looked different and had a foul odor. People reported problems. The state confirmed and addressed an E. coli contamination and said the water was fine, but parents were worried. Many started buying bottled water, even for cooking and showering. A Virginia Tech researcher tested the water and said it was corrosive. Finally, in September of this year, researchers confirmed Flint residents’ worst fear: lead had leached into the municipal drinking supply from old piping, and city water-lead levels were the highest they’d been in 20 years.

The problem began when in April 2014 the city of Flint temporarily changed its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money. The different chemistry of the river water corroded the city’s old pipes, releasing huge amounts of lead into the drinking water.

In that time, adults and children of every age were unknowingly exposed, including formula-drinking babies and the unborn children of pregnant mothers.

Even though Flint changed its water source back after the lead was discovered, the corroded pipes have lost their protective seal, meaning the water is still unsafe and much of the system will have to be replaced. On Monday, new mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency in Flint.

“We started hearing in late August of elevated water lead levels. Pediatricians freaked out,” Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the director of the pediatric residency program at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, told The Huffington Post. “That’s really when we got mobilized.”

The long-term consequences of lead poisoning are dire for children, according to the World Health Organization. While a lead-poisoned infant or toddler might not show any outward physical or mental signs of damage, their developing —> Read More