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lead levels

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Despite efforts to reduce lead levels in Flint’s tap water, some homes continue to test with levels far above the federal action level.  

But a consultant may soon recommend a simple response.

Sink in Flint with a warning sign.
Virginia Tech

Researchers from Virginia Tech are announcing the results of their fourth round of water testing in Flint today.

For many people in the city, their trust in government has been broken. They don't trust what the state, or the federal government say about the safety of their water.

The Virginia Tech researchers are more trusted. They sounded the alarm about the lead crisis in the summer of 2015. And they've been retesting as many of the homes in their original study as they can. Officials are watching what the team has to say about the safety of the water closely. 

A table filled with bottles of Flint water (both clear and brown)
Flint Water Study / Facebook

The Legislature is going to work on toughening standards for lead in drinking water, although finishing the job may have to wait until next year.

State Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint) has sponsored a bill to reduce the allowable levels of lead in drinking water. His bill would take the standard from the current 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 parts, and then to five pbb. He says the eventual goal is zero exposure to lead.

He says Michigan should adopt the toughest lead rules in the country following the Flint water crisis.                                     

A table filled with bottles of Flint water (both clear and brown)
Flint Water Study / Facebook

 This past April Governor Rick Snyder said he wanted the state to enact tougher lead limits for drinking water than the federal limits. He unveiled the plan in the wake of the ongoing Flint water crisis.

The EPA measures lead levels in terms of parts per billion, and the current "federal action level" for lead in drinking water is 15 ppb. Snyder said he wanted to lower Michigan's standard to 10ppb, making it the toughest standard in the country.

Tens of thousands of water filters have been distributed in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Health officials say filtered Flint tap water is now safe enough for children and pregnant women to drink.

For months, concerns about potential lead exposure from the tap prompted federal, state and local officials to urge kids and pregnant women to only drink bottled water in Flint.

But that recommendation is changing.

Dr. Nicole Lurie is an Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.   She’s leading the federal response to the Flint Water Crisis.

Elevated lead levels found in Farmington schools' water

Apr 27, 2016
Steven Depolo / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Across the state, more schools are testing their water for lead because of the Flint water crisis. And Farmington Public Schools is one of those school systems.

In a letter to district families, Superintendent George Heitsch said recent testing revealed slightly elevated levels of lead in six faucets and drinking fountains in five school buildings.

The letter reads, "To put this in perspective, the lead level is to not exceed the number 15 and the highest in this group was a 37. A level of 500 is considered to be 'high.'" 

Marc Edwards delivers the results of the tests on April 12, 2016.
YouTube / screen grab

New tests from the team at Virginia Tech show Flint’s water is “highly variable” and still not safe to drink without a filter.

Marc Edwards says tests done last month show Flint’s water is still above the federal action level for lead.

More from their press release:

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

The city of Detroit wants all its schools to test for lead in drinking water.

The Detroit Public Schools is already on board with the initiative, and has tested 60 schools so far.

But Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, the Detroit health department director, says the city won’t stop there.

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.

Dr. Nicole Lurie makes an announcement about lead testing results in Flint. She is leading the federal response in Flint for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State and federal officials say water tests at some homes in Flint are coming in at 150 parts per billion or more for lead. That’s ten times the federal action level of 15 parts per billion.

They say they're still testing homes, and of the 4,000 samples collected since December, 26 had levels at 150 parts per billion or higher. In at least one case, the home’s drinking water tested at 4,000 parts per billion. 

Dr. Nicole Lurie is leading the federal response to the water crisis for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.