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Water tests show improvements in Flint, but bottled water and filters still a must

Aug 12, 2016

Just three days before the federal disaster declaration expires in Flint, Virginia Tech water expert Marc Edwards has released the results of the latest water tests in Flint.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody joined us to explain the results.

He said the results don't really reflect a thumbs up or thumbs down for Flint's water quality.

"At this point, Marc Edwards is still saying while things are improving and have dramatically improved since last year, he says people should continue to use filtered or bottled water."

“It was more something in between," he said. "Marc Edwards talked about the results and how they show that lead levels are coming down, and now the city is somewhat below the federal action level. But, again, much like Flint water itself, the answer is rather murky.”

Michigan Radio's Rebecca Williams breaks the results down here:

Some good news:

 The team, led by former Flint resident LeeAnne Walters and the Flint citizen science group, sampled lead levels in water in 162 homes in July 2016. The 90th percentile level for lead was 13.9 ppb. This is below the EPA action level of 15ppb.

But there’s an important caveat here. 

Kelsey Pieper, a postdoctoral fellow at Virginia Tech, said their sampling pool is a random sample of homes and does not specifically target the highest risk homes for lead. So, while their results show the homes they tested are below the action level, it’s not an official result that would qualify under the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule.

Carmody said Edwards credits the city, state and federal governments for Flint's improved water quality. But those improvements don't mean that the water is safe to drink.

"At this point, Marc Edwards is still saying while things are improving and have dramatically improved since last year, he says people should continue to use filtered or bottled water," he said.

Carmody also said Edwards indicated that in the next 6-12 months, Flint should see "significant" water quality improvements.

You can find a more detailed breakdown of Virginia Tech's recent test results here

GUEST

Steve Carmody​ reports for Michigan Radio and has covered the water crisis since it began.