Tap water contaminated with lead in Flint, Michigan, scientists have concluded recently. Researchers have warned that drinking it can result in severe consequences, including damaging one’s IQ and cognitive functions permanently. According to Vice, the tap water has been contaminated when the city decided to change its supply from Detroit to the Flint River, which reportedly contains twice the levels of lead.
The reason for the lead contamination is because the water comes in contact with service lines and pipes, requiring stricter treatment and purification methods which the city simply cannot provide at this stage. The Genesee County has already issued a public health advisory and doctors have warned pregnant women, children, senior citizens and those suffering from other complications to avoid drinking the tap water at all cost.
Despite all these warnings and proof of serve lead contamination, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services insists the situation is under control. The Department blames the lead in the water on “seasonal” consequences, stating that it is “not related to the water supply.”
Lead poisoning can have severe health consequences in the long run. Most vulnerable are children however, who can experience anything from learning difficulties to severe organ damage. Adults exposed to high levels of lead can also suffer from major complications in time, including hearing difficulties, kidney damage, memory loss, seizures and even sudden miscarriages.
Exposure to significant levels of lead accounts for 143,000 to 600,000 new cases of children developing learning disabilities and intellectual problems each year. Kary L. Moss, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s department in Michigan, says that:
“The EPA, along with city officials, must exercise their full authority to guarantee that the people of Flint are protected from the hazardous water now flowing into their homes.”
Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the Earth’s crust and is used considerably in modern industries, such as mining, smelting and manufacturing. Up until the late 1940s, the full devastating effects of lead poisoning were not fully known and thus the metal was used not only for industrial applications, but also for commercial use.
Geochemist Clair Cameron Patterson was the first scientist to fully determine the disastrous impact of lead poisoning on human health. Patterson campaigned against its commercial applications, eventually banning the use of tetraethyllead in gasoline and lead solder in food cans. It was a revolutionary change at the time and many are now baffled to still experience the prospect of lead poisoning from drinking water in the 21st century.
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