Lead poisoning

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a sign on the front door of Blackstone’s Pub and Grill in downtown Flint.  It reads: Water Test: Lead Free.   

Business is down at many Flint restaurants. Their owners blame the city’s drinking water crisis, but there’s a push on now to change people’s minds.

State, county, and local officials held a news conference today to show what’s being done to make sure the water used to prepare food, and the water used for ice is lead free.

Sen. Peters is hoping a bipartisan push will secure federal resources to assist in Michigan's efforts in Flint
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The FBI has now joined the investigation into the contamination of Flint’s drinking water. That’s in addition to the U.S. Prosecutor and State Attorney General Bill Schuette.

The announcement comes in advance of tomorrow’s House committee hearing on the public health disaster.

In the meantime, leaders at local, state and federal levels are trying to piece together money and strategies to get the lead out of the water and to help the children who have been exposed to lead.

Flint residents continue to receive bills for contaminated, unsafe water.
flickr user Bart / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state Senate today unanimously approved $28 million to help Flint with its water crisis. Three million of that has been set aside to “aid with utility/unpaid bills issues.”

Whether or not to pay for water they’re unable to use has been a big question for Flint residents, whose water rates are among the highest in Michigan. Just today residents and activists protested at Flint City Hall, calling for a moratorium on water bills.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Virginia Tech researcher Dr. Marc Edwards is coming back to Flint.

Edwards’ team was the first to discover high levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water last summer. Earlier this month, Edwards announced his team was ending its probe of Flint's lead-tainted water.

Mayor Karen Weaver announced today that Edwards will oversee all water testing by the state and federal governments.

“He is fully independent. He will be reporting to me,” says Weaver.

Weaver adds that Edwards’ work will be paid for with “private donations.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After many months of finger-pointing, there’s an effort underway in Michigan to determine just who’s at fault for the city of Flint’s drinking water crisis.

Michigan’s Attorney General has now appointed a special counsel to investigate how the city’s tap water became contaminated with lead.

People in Flint have spent nearly two years drinking bottled water.

For almost as long, there’s been a demand that someone be held accountable for the decisions that left their tap water undrinkable.

Today, Michigan’s Attorney General took a step in that direction.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Republican leaders in the state Senate say a $28 million emergency appropriation for Flint should come with some accountability measures to make sure that money is spent wisely.

The bill flew through the state House with unanimous support the day after Gov. Rick Snyder requested the special funding during his State of the State Address.

The Senate is expected to move swiftly next week to send the money to Snyder’s desk.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“I just want to say the president has granted our request for an emergency declaration,” Flint Mayor Karen Weaver smiled broadly as she told a crowded news conference at city hall Saturday afternoon.

The declaration will mean federal assistance in getting bottled water and filters to help the city deal with its lead tainted water supply. A switch to the Flint River as the city's drinking water source created toxic levels of lead in the tap water. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are questions being raised about Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s plans to investigate Flint’s water crisis.

Schuette issued a press release this morning announcing his decision to open an investigation into Flint’s lead-tainted drinking water.

Researchers at Virginia Tech received samples of Flint water (both clear and discolored) from residents. Dr. Edwards and his team there were among the first to call attention to lead contamination in Flint's water.
Flint Water Study / Facebook

The Flint water crisis has taken a new turn, with Governor Snyder's announcement that there's been an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Flint.

Genesee County had 87 cases of Legionnaires', with ten deaths between June 2014 and November 2015. Prior years only saw between six and 10 cases.

The outbreak started soon after the city switched to water from the Flint River, and ended after it went back to Detroit water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are efforts underway to help Flint children exposed to lead in their drinking water.

There’s also an effort to see if those interventions are working.

Children exposed to high levels of lead benefit from better nutrition and early education. A new collaboration between Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital will try to find the best ways to do that.

Aron Sousa is the interim director of the MSU College of Human Medicine. He says intervention is good, but “the key thing is figuring out if your intervention is working.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan National Guardsmen are in Flint today.

They’re there to pass out bottled water and filters to residents. That’s because for more than a year, the city’s tap water has been unsafe to drink.      

Numerous missteps by government agencies allowed the city’s water to become contaminated with lead, and many residents say they no longer trust the governor to fix the problem.

Tuesday afternoon, about a dozen children were sitting at a table in their school gymnasium piecing together snowflakes in an arts and crafts project.  

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s plan to recover from its drinking water problems goes to the Genesee County commission Monday morning.

The city’s use of the Flint River for its drinking water damaged the city’s pipes, and exposed thousands of people to high levels of lead.  The city switched back to Detroit water last fall.  But city residents are still being told to use water filters.  

Mayor Karen Weaver is asking the county commission to give its ok to Flint’s plan to fix the problem.

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:

  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A top researcher says it’s still too soon to drink Flint’s tap water unfiltered.

Virginia Tech University researcher Marc Edwards has been studying Flint’s water problems for months.    Tests conducted by Edwards’ team on water samples from more than 250 Flint homes showed elevated levels of lead.  

Edwards has been in Flint this week testing tap water in ten ‘sentinel’ homes.  He says the tests are tracking what’s happened in the six weeks since Flint switched back to Detroit water, after 18 months of getting tap water from the corrosive Flint River. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s new mayor has laid out her priorities for her first hundred days in office. Not surprisingly, the plan largely reflects the issues she stressed in her campaign.

Karen Weaver defeated incumbent mayor Dayne Walling in last month’s election.   She’s been on the job for nearly a month. 

Even though roughly a quarter of her first hundred days have passed, the mayor says now was a good time to update people on her plans for her first 100 days.

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s water crisis is now the subject of a federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of four families was filed Friday.

The lawsuit singles out 14 state and local officials FOR “reckless” conduct connected to the decision to switch to and stay with the Flint River for the city’s drinking water source.  The lawsuit names Gov. Rick Snyder, former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and former emergency manager Darnell Earley, among others.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Dozens of families turned up for free blood lead level testing in Flint today.

Nurses tried to soothe the fears of toddlers, telling them “it’s just a little poke” before using a small lancet to prick the child’s finger.   

Many of the children were not soothed. But many parents hope the clinic will ease some of their worries.

wikimedia commons

It’s national lead poisoning prevention week, and Metro Detroit county health officials are zeroing in on the problem with an event Tuesday.

The event at Sterling Heights’ Freedom Hill is focused mostly on education and awareness.

But there’s also an opportunity to test kids’ toys and other products for lead.

Gov. Snyder is taking heat regarding decisions made by his Emergency Managers that lead to the Flint water crisis
Gov. Rick Snyder / screengrab

The fallout from the Flint water crisis is far from over.

Yes, the state’s top water official has been “reassigned.”  

And sure, the Department of Environment Quality director admits they bungled the testing of Flint’s water, and failed at setting up appropriate corrosion control measures. Those measures would have prevented lead from leaching from pipes in the Flint’s water.

But there is a deeper anger in Flint aimed at Governor Snyder, and the string of emergency managers he appointed to run the struggling city when it reached a financial crisis.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says Flint did not follow federal regulations for large water systems when it switched its source for drinking water.

The front of a "Dutch Boy White Lead" paint can. Dust from old paint is still one of the major ways kids get exposed to lead.
user Thester11 / Wikimedia Commons

What’s happening in Flint has some people wondering about what’s happening in their homes.

The Flint water crisis is highlighting the problem of lead exposure in kids.

Lead can permanently lower IQ and cause behavior problems. Researchers have even linked children with elevated lead levels with a higher propensity toward crime later in life.

Now, state officials are urging schools around the state to test their water for lead.

But it’s also important to know what’s going on at home.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint hasn’t been using any corrosion-control method since it switched from Detroit’s water system in April 2014. Corrosion-control treatment helps keep lead out of drinking water. Since the switch, more kids are showing up with elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Flint residents continue to receive bills for contaminated, unsafe water.
flickr user Bart / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Last year, Flint ended five decades of service from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. The city’s going to take its water from a new pipeline from Lake Huron, but that won’t be ready until some time next year.

In the meantime, Flint decided that rather than continuing to pay for Detroit water, it would get its drinking water from the Flint River.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The water in Flint is likely poisoning kids.

That’s what pediatricians in the city say, after looking at lead levels in young children before and after the city switched the source of its drinking water from the Detroit water system to the Flint River.


An internal memo from the Environmental Protection Agency is raising concerns about lead in Flint’s water.

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