Flint Water Crisis is a Hoax.
Various stories doing rounds heavily online, also coming from some Michigan politicians, especially GOP Republicans, claim that the water crisis issue in Flint city of United States is vastly overstated and might even be a hoax. As detailed below, the claims as such are not facts.
How Tap Water Became Toxic in Flint
Flint was declared to be in a financial state of emergency in 2011 and the state took budgetary control. The water crisis in Flint city of Michigan began in 2014 when a state-appointed emergency manager switched Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron (which they were paying the city of Detroit for), to the Flint River, in order to save money. The switch was supposed to be temporary, for about two years, until a new state-run supply line to Lake Huron was ready for connection. The problem, however, is the Flint River is a notorious tributary known to locals for its filth, and soon after the state switched the water supply, the water at public homes started to look, smell and taste different, with residents saying it often looked dirty.
According to researchers from Virginia Tech, the Flint River is highly corrosive – 19 times more than that of Lake Huron supply. In Flint, the water mains are made of Iron which turned some of the water brown, and half of the service lines, pipes at homes are made of Lead. And according to a class-action lawsuit, the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was not treating the Flint River water with an anti-corrosive agent, which is in violation of federal law. A 2011 study said the Flint River water can be considered safe for drinking when it is treated with an anti-corrosive agent.
More serious concern; in addition to the Iron, Lead began leaching into the Flint water supply. This came into light after a local Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha in the pediatric ward of Flint’s Hurley Medical Center came to see more and more worried parents fretting over rashes and hair loss. She said the blood lead levels in toddlers doubled and even tripled in some cases. In August 2015, a group of Virginia Tech researchers did in-home testing of drinking water in Flint and found elevated levels of lead, before they made those findings public. Shown in the video is a brief report on the Flint water crisis.
Lead Poisoning Effects on Health
According to World Health Organization website who.int, exposure to lead causes a variety of health effects, and it affects children in particular. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha talked about the lead concerns saying, “It’s a well-known, potent neurotoxin. There’s tons of evidence on what lead does to a child, and it is one of the most damning things that you can do to a population. It drops your IQ, it affects your behavior, it’s been linked to criminality, it has multigenerational impacts. There is no safe level of lead in a child.”
Controversial Political Views
Contrary to the findings mentioned above, some Michigan politicians said the Flint water crisis reported in the media is vastly overstated and might even be a hoax. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said the water crisis had been “vastly overstated”. Bill Ballenger, a well-known Republican political analyst and a Flint resident appeared on “Off the Record” TV show on 19 Jan 2016 and said he was offering “the other side” of the story. Ballenger questioned whether the Flint water crisis was a hoax, saying that he lives in city, drinks the same water and is perfectly fine. Ballenger also admitted that some people in Flint have been exposed to lead poisoning, but he questioned the severity of the contamination and mentioned that further studies were needed in the aspect. However, within hours of voicing his skepticism, Bill Ballenger, a contributor of Inside Michigan Politics (a newsletter that covers politics across the state), was fired over comments he made on a public TV show.
After the water contamination came into light, Flint residents protested saying they were kept in the dark for 18 months. Three months after high lead levels were detected in Flint children; Michigan Governor Rick Snyder apologized during a news conference and declared a state of emergency over the issue. Few weeks later, in October 2015, Flint city reverted to using Detroit’s Lake Huron water supply, but the damage was done to the lead pipes. The state started handing out filters and bottled water.
A preliminary inquiry from state-appointed task force found that fault in case of Flint water crisis lies with the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), because of which the Director Dan Wyant resigned on 29 December 2015. Former Mayor Dayne Walling, who confidently went on TV and drank Flint River water to subdue early protests, lost his re-election bid.
President Obama criticized the Flint water crisis as “inexplicable and inexcusable” delay in how authorities responded to the problem. On 16 Jan 2016, Obama declared a federal emergency in Flint, freeing up to $5 million in federal aid to immediately assist with the public health crisis.
Hoax or Fact: