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water filters

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Water filters that you attach to your faucet are known to be good for filtering out heavy metals like lead and disinfectants like chlorine. But they’re not designed to filter out bacteria that can grow in the filter itself.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Three years ago today, Flint switched the source of its drinking water, and triggered a public health crisis.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state will stop subsidizing Flint water bills this month.

When will the state stop distributing bottled water? 

People in Flint still make daily or weekly trips to the city’s water distribution sites to pick up cases of bottled water. 

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she’s heard discussions of ending bottled water distribution by September, which she says is too soon. 

“We know we still need bottled water,” says Weaver, “If we still need to use filters, we still need bottled water as well.”

People in Flint waiting in line for water filters.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

For more than a year, Flint residents have been told to use filters on their taps to screen lead from their drinking water. Filters on kitchen faucets are as much a part of everyday life in Flint as bottled water. Specialized filters were one of the first responses to Flint’s lead tainted tap water crisis.  

However, state officials and others are changing their message on filters.

Even just a few months ago, they were still strongly urging their use.

Now, it’s more of a mild suggestion.

A kitchen sink in Flint with a point-of-use water filter.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

In Flint, experts are warning that one potential solution to the city’s lead-tainted tap water has some serious potential downsides.

Whole house filters cleanse water of impurities and chemicals. Groups have been promoting their use in Flint to screen out lead. A company gave a presentation to the city council just a few days ago.

But experts say the filters have a downside.

Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha helped raised the alarm about lead in Flint’s tap water. She says ‘whole-house’ filters don’t screen out lead that leaches from pipes and filters inside the home.

Sink in Flint with a warning sign.
Virginia Tech

A federal appeals court may weigh in this week on a lower court order that directs the state of Michigan and the city of Flint to start delivering water to homes without a working filter.

The city’s is still dealing with a public health crisis after it was found tap water was contaminated with elevated levels of lead. Recent tests by researchers with Virginia Tech show significant improvement in lead levels, but the use of filters is still encouraged.

Bottles of water
Flickr user Daniel Orth / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

When the Flint water disaster exploded, the state began sending emergency supplies to the city: millions and millions of dollars worth of bottled water, filters and cartridges.

Detroit Free Press reporter Paul Egan's front-page story this week suggests the state overpaid for those supplies, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. Egan found that instead of using a formal bidding process, the State went directly to Georgia-based Home Depot to buy the supplies. And it failed to seriously seek bids from  Michigan companies.

National Guardsmen delivered bottled water in Flint earlier this year.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Free bottled water, filters and cartridges aren’t going anywhere. 

That’s the message the state is trying to send Flint residents ahead of the looming deadline of August 14, when the federal emergency declaration for Flint ends.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Genesee County Medical Society suggests pregnant women and children under 6 in Flint should stick to bottled water until more tests are performed.

That's despite the fact that federal agencies claimed water filters are working to remove lead from Flint tap water.

"We finally have enough data to agree that the filters work so well to remove the lead that everyone in Flint -- even pregnant women, nursing moms and young children -- can used filtered water here," Dr. Nicole Laurie, leader of the federal response to the Flint water crisis, told reporters last week.

Flint resident Michael Poole says he has enough water in his basement, "I could probably put it in a big ol' barrel and take a shower for days."
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Michael Poole doesn’t buy the line that filtered tap water is safe for him and his neighbors to drink.

“There may be a day when I might be able to trust” the water, he says. “But until then, I’m getting this right here.”

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.

Georgie Sharp / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This weekend, AARP officials plan to sit down with older Flint residents to see how the city’s drinking water crisis affects them.

Flint’s water system has dealt with serious problems, including high lead levels.

Paula Cunningham is the state director of AARP. She says about a third of Flint residents are over 60 years old.

“These are very vulnerable folks who need some attention and need our assistance as well,” says Cunningham.

Governor Snyder sits with Flint resident Cheryl Canty in her home on Monday
Facebook

Gov. Rick Snyder visited a Flint home on Monday and drank filtered water from the family's tap.

He then announced that he'll be drinking filtered tap water from Flint for the next 30 days to show the public that it's safe. 

 

Cheryl Canty, the Flint resident who opened up her home to Snyder, tells us she was surprised to find out that the governor would be paying her a visit. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is “not impressed” by Governor Snyder’s pledge to drink only Flint water for the next 30 days. 

The governor made the pledge to drink filtered Flint water yesterday.

“I’m going to start drinking that tonight and do that for the next 30 days … when I’m at work and at home,” Snyder told reporters on Monday. The governor says he wants to be a “role model” to show filtered Flint tap water is safe to drink.

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

New tests suggest filters work even in Flint homes with high levels of lead in the drinking water.

EPA officials say 50 homes have tested at 150 parts per billion of lead, well above the federal action level, and at the filters’ posted limit.

But the EPA’s Mark Durno says tests at 10 of those homes show filters can still remove the lead.

“Even at those higher levels, even the ones that came back still over 150, when you pass them through the filter they are non-detect,” says Durno.

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. 

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.