The citizens in Flint, Michigan have been dealing with the ongoing effects of lead contamination in their water since 2014. While recent testing has shown that the water is now safe to use for hand-washing and bathing, the crisis is far from over.
The Flint Water Crisis has received an enormous amount of attention from all over the country since Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint on January 5, 2016. Celebrities have donated money, water, and performances to raise awareness of this atrocity and help soothe the needs of those it is affecting.
President Barack Obama visited Flint in May, drinking a glass of filtered water to personally vouch for its safety. While that's all well and good, it's not a permanent solution for a problem that should never have existed in the first place.
There have been some reports that even though lead levels have been reduced enough so it is safe for many people to use the water for bathing and hand-washing, some have reported that it is causing rashes and breathing problems. Scientists working close with the situation cannot say for sure at this point if the water is the problem or what would be causing it.
To truly fix the problem in Flint, all of the corroded pipes will need to be replaced, which is a tremendous undertaking that the city is not in a position to begin. Out of the 500 lead pipe service lines to be replaced, only 33 have been dug up yet. The city is expected to receive $25 million in funding to replace the pipes, but that isn't believed to be enough.
Even once every home in Flint has water that is safe to drink, the crisis won't be over. The people of Flint will undoubtedly remember the kindness of strangers from around the country donating water and filters, but they will also remember being betrayed by their elected officials, whose job it is to keep them safe.
When charges were filed felony charges against three government employees at the end of April, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette promised that they were "only the beginning." One of the men who was charged accepted a plea bargain, under the condition he assists the investigation. Nearly two months later, there have been no other charges filed relating to the investigation.
What's more, there's no taking back the effects of the lead the children of Flint have been exposed to. There is no level of lead that is deemed "safe" in children, and this exposure—even if it is temporary—could have severe impacts on the rest of their lives.
Here are just some of the effects of lead poisoning in children:
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Despite the need to deal with the long-term consequences of Flint's water crisis, the first thing that needs to be done is returning safe water to every Flint resident. Until that day comes, it is important to keep pressure on lawmakers in Michigan until the job is done.
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