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lead

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

New test results show lead levels in Kalamazoo’s water system have dropped.

The federal limit for lead in water is 15 parts per billion. Last time the city tested, in 2014, Kalamazoo’s lead level was 13 parts per billion. Now it's down to 4 ppb.

13 ppb was close enough to worry Shannan Deater, Kalamazoo’s Environmental Services Programs Manager. She says some of the higher lead results in 2014 weren’t really a good, representative sample. 

Courtesy Nan Palmero / Creative Commons -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

On Monday, federal authorities approved federal and state funding to help with led abatement in Flint. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a Michigan State Plan Amendment (SPA) aiming to reduce and eliminate hazardous lead in homes in or near Flint — according to a press release.

DWSD

Detroit found more lead in drinking water samples this summer than it has in recent years, and there’s a few reasons to account for the uptick.  

Unofficial results posted this month by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department show Detroit’s water is safe to drink by federal standards.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The hunt is on for lead pipes in Detroit.

Flint officials still don’t know where all the city’s lead service lines are. That’s because the building records were in horrible shape.

Flickr user David Salafia/Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state is advising schools to test their water for lead, even though it’s not required. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality wants schools to take action, even if lead levels are below the federal standard.

The federal action limit for lead in water is 15 parts per billion. Governor Rick Snyder would like to see Michigan have an even stricter standard; 10 ppb.

Michigan’s Treasury Department deserves blame for its role in the Flint water crisis, according to a new report.
Flickr user Ian Freimuth / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

With the white-hot glare of worldwide publicity fixed on Flint, one might think the city would avoid doing anything to draw more attention. 

Like, for example, failing to pay the man heading the push to replace those lead pipes. 

Retired Brigadier General Michael McDaniel was appointed to lead the effort to rid the city of its lead pipes back in February. Seven months later, he hasn't seen a penny. 

Peeling lead paint.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Some Grand Rapids homes are about to get a lot safer.

The city is among 23 state and local agencies across the country to receive Lead Based Paint Hazard Control grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Lead paint has been banned from use in housing since 1978, but it's still on the walls and woodwork in many older Michigan homes.

"It was marketed as 'the good paint', so if you cared about your home, then you used it," said Doug Stek, who directs hazard control projects for the City of Grand Rapids.

A lead service line removed from a Flint home. Lead service lines were useful because the metal is flexible and can bend - making installation easier.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

There are several potential sources of lead in your home plumbing that can get into your drinking water.

  • The service line connecting the water main to your house could be made out of lead
  • The solder in your plumbing could have lead in it
  • And older brass faucets and valves can contain lead

So how do you figure out what you have in your house?

This question has been nagging at me for some time. At our house, we drink the water straight from the tap.

A fountain on the University of Michigan's central campus.
user VasenkaPhotography / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The University of Michigan says it's testing the drinking water on its Ann Arbor campus for lead and copper.

The school say it's just a precautionary measure, adding there’s no indication anything’s wrong with the water.

This kind of system-wide testing is becoming more common after the Flint water crisis.

faucet
Steve Johnson / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Flint isn't alone when it comes to problems with lead-contaminated tap water.

A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council says more than 5,000 water systems around the country had lead violations in 2015.

That comes out to more than 18 million Americans who were served by lead-contaminated water systems last year.

The report, which analyzed data from the Environmental Protection Agency, may not even show how big the problem really is, according to Erik Olson with the NRDC.

A snapping turtle
Jessica Kosiara

A recent study published in Environmental Monitoring and Assessments finds turtles are getting doses of heavy metals such as lead and copper.

Matt Cooper is one of the co-authors of this study. He’s a research scientist at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin.

a drinking fountain
Ian Sane / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Drinking fountains in two buildings on Wayne State University's campus have tested positive for lead, according to university officials. In a letter to the campus community, the university said it had tested water in 11 campus buildings, and found lead above the EPA action levels in two buildings – the College of Education Building and the Meyer L. Prentis Cancer Center Building.

The water inlets to the buildings were free of lead. The affected fountains have been shut off, and the University says it will test all other drinking water sources on campus as soon as possible. 

Flickr user kattebelletje/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Drinking lead-tainted water is out of the question, as is cooking with it and bathing in it. But what about gardening? Is it safe to water your garden with leaded water through a hose without a filter?

Sub Committee chair Mike Zimmer (lower left) delivers a report on new lead/copper testing as members of the governor's special Flint water team listen, including Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan would have the toughest lead testing standard in the nation under a sweeping proposal unveiled today in Flint, where the drinking water is still contaminated with lead and residents remain dependent on bottled water donations.

To make sure other Michigan cities don’t suffer the same fate, Gov. Rick Snyder and a team of experts have unveiled a plan to tighten water testing regulations and lower the threshold for action.   

Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

One of the most critical points in discovering the full extent of Flint’s water crisis was a study of blood-lead levels in Flint children.

That study, by pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, found that after the city switched to the Flint River for its drinking water, lead levels in the blood of Flint’s kids doubled. Since then, Hanna-Attisha has become internationally famous, using the attention to fight for the lead-poisoned children of Flint.

But it’s possible she wouldn't have thought to check those blood-lead levels without the help of an old friend from the ninth grade.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan has had to swing into high gear in the wake of the Flint water crisis.

“We traditionally did about 1.6 million pounds out of the food bank, in January of 2015,” said president Bill Kerr. “This year we did over 3 million pounds.”

Kerr says water accounted for the increase, with about 1.4 million pounds of water distributed at 140 sites last month.

Now, Kerr says the food bank is tweaking its operations again.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

It’s been almost four months since Flint went back to buying water from Detroit’s water system.

Here’s the good news: Since January, more than 90 percent of water tests have come back below the federal action level for lead of 15 parts per billion.

But there are still some insanely high lead levels in some homes. Take a look at a map of where those are, and you'll see there’s no pattern.

Lead pipes
Mitch Barrie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Flint water crisis has attracted attention and outrage from all over the globe, but unfortunately, the city of Flint isn’t the first to have its population affected by lead.

Due to the age and condition of lead water lines, it’s entirely possible that other cities around the country are currently suffering from elevated lead levels.

The most recent large-scale example of lead poisoning was discovered in 2001 in Washington D.C.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday afternoon they’ve sent a “public health strike team” to Flint.

HHS says it has sent in more than a dozen officers with the Commissioned Corps. That’s a uniformed service of public health experts.

They’ll be doing follow-up medical visits with kids whose tests have come back with elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A team of people at University of Michigan’s Flint campus is almost done converting old, paper records into digital records that show which homes have lead service lines. The team has been working on it for a couple of weeks now, and should have the information by the end of this week.

State and federal officials have been after the information because they need it to help determine when Flint’s water will be safe to drink again.

Flint families tough it out amid contaminated water

Jan 23, 2016
Mercedes Mejia

Like many residents of Flint, She'a Cobb doesn't trust the water that comes out of her faucets. So now, every day is a carefully orchestrated one — from brushing her teeth to taking a shower.

Cobb is a 31-year old bus driver who lives with her daughter and mother in Flint, a struggling blue-collar town where 40% of people live in poverty.

Flickr user David Salafia/Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Researchers are looking into the possible ripple effects of lead exposure. 

After the city of Flint switched to the Flint River for its drinking water, experts found the number of kids with elevated levels of lead in their blood doubled.

Even low levels of lead can cause kids to lose IQ points and end up with behavior problems.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State troopers and volunteers are knocking on doors in Flint, handing out bottled water, water filters, and lead testing kits.

The city and state have been offering the water and kits for months. But many people say it’s difficult for them to travel, especially during the winter.

Lt. David Kaiser says the door-to-door outreach is part of a larger effort to help people in Flint get the clean water they need.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Flint museum is opening a new exhibit later this month that will take a close look at the city’s drinking water crisis.

When Sloan Museum executive director Todd Slisher booked the national traveling exhibit “Water’s Extreme Journey” nearly two years ago, he had no idea of the crisis that would soon grip Flint.

The city’s disastrous switch to the Flint River ended up damaging the city’s water system and led to health concerns.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Officials are now going door to door in Flint handing out water filters.

Genesee County reserve sheriff’s deputies started knocking on doors just after 10 am in a neighborhood on the city’s north side.  If someone answers, deputies  hand out bottled water and filters to homeowners who need them. 

While thousands of water filters have been handed out, many people in Flint are still not using them to filter lead from their drinking water.

Sheriff Robert Pickell says the homes in this neighborhood are some of the oldest in town, with some dating back to 1900. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s contaminated drinking water is now the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Gina Balaya is a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Michigan. She confirmed the investigation today. 

“(The U.S. Attorney’s office) is working closely with the EPA” on the investigation "to address the concerns of Flint residents," says Balaya.  

She declined to comment further on the investigation.

What it means when the MDEQ's director resigns

Dec 29, 2015
Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant has resigned because of the agency's role in the Flint water crisis.

But will more state officials resign in the near future and why does all of this matter?

Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris talks with Rick Pluta, the State Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, about Wyant's resignation.

Listen here:

  

Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

Preliminary findings from Michigan’s independent Auditor General give more details about the Flint water crisis.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is taking new steps to reduce lead in the city’s drinking water.

Flint is adding phosphates to water it gets from Detroit. Detroit already adds phosphates to the water to make it less corrosive to pipes. 

Flint Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow says adding more phosphates to the water should help create a biofilm within the city’s water pipes. 

“That should help alleviate our lead issues out in the system,” says Glasgow.

Physicians say button batteries are a potential hazard for small kids.
user Ubcule / wikimedia commons

An annual report from the Public Interest Research Group on potentially hazardous toys highlights some big safety improvements—and new dangers.

PIRG’s annual survey examined hundreds of toys for a number of potential hazards.

None of the toys this year tested positive for lead, but three did test positive for another restricted metal—chromium.

Dr. Jaime Hope, an emergency medicine specialist at Beaumont Hospital, says regulations are making some toy makers more creative.

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