Tuesday, January 19, 2016

When Water is Toxic

None of us can live without water.

When we turn on our tap, here in the First World, we expect the water coming out of it to be potable.  We depend on our government to provide a good drinking water that will not poison us.

What happens when the water you drink is toxic?

I want to thank Denise, a blogger in Michigan, for inspiring me to write this post.

Back in the late 1970's, my spouse and I drove through Flint, Michigan on the way to somewhere else.  We passed auto plant after auto plant.  But, with the decline of the auto industry, Flint declined, too.   The decline was so serious that a movie about Flint (Roger and Me) in 1989 became a hit - a controversal hit, but a hit nevertheless.

Now, Flint is in the news again, for the worst reason - children are involved.

In 2014, Flint, which was drawing water from the nearby major city of Detroit (about a 45 minute drive away) decided instead to draw water from the Flint River to "save money". Immediately, there were complaints about the taste of the water, which were disregarded. In the fall of 2015, it was discovered that this was a tragic mistake - the proportion of children with above average levels of lead had doubled.  In October, Flint reversed this decision, but it was too late.

Now, the water in some parts of Flint is testing at some of the highest levels of lead researchers have ever found in a municipal water supply-enough to meet a government definition of toxic waste.  Now, the National Guard has been called out to distribute drinking water to the affected residents.

How toxic is toxic?

I can remember when lead was used in household paint.  Then, they found that children would chew flaking paint, and the lead caused all kinds of damage - to quote the Washington Post, problems caused by lead "can include high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems, kidney damage and memory and neurological problems."  Lead was banned from paint.  Later, lead was banned from gasoline.

The terrible effects of lead, in other words, have been known for years.

Yes, just imagine - endangering the future of children to save some money.  Water that goes into baby formula, water that goes into schools, water that goes into daycare centers...water, the staff of life.

Until it isn't.

I rarely get political on my blog, but this defies belief.  Our President has declared a Federal emergency in Flint. 

Hundreds of children have tested with too-high levels of lead in their blood.

The natural urge of many of us is to reach out and contribute money for relief/supplies. But, if you do, please be very careful. Scammers love to take advantage of these situations.  Please be careful, and investigate any organization you want to give money to.

 One TV network has posted this information, which I have not investigated, or endorsed.

What will be the end result of this tragedy?  I shudder to think that we are only seeing the beginning.


  1. Thank you for your post. You put down much of what I would say if I wasn't so angry about all of this. The Governor's State of the State is on tonight and I might have to force myself to listen to it. They were listing drop-off points for water this morning on the radio. Thanks again.

  2. Two salient facts- neither of which change the tragedy...
    "Flint" didn't change the water supply. The Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder, dispensed his own minion to run the city- and that led to the decision to use quality water. (Yes, this makes the state- and Rick Snyder- guilty of the crime.)
    It is NOT a disaster site, just an emergency, because self-inflicted problems cannot demand the rest of the country bail out the perpetrator. Emergency funds are fairly limited, thankfully.

  3. This is a shocking turn of events, but not surprising, if that makes sense. I think w will see a lot of it as time goes on, sad to say.

  4. How anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of environmental science and current EPA issues could think it was safe to use the Flint River as a source of drinking water is beyond me...

  5. In India we face issues with toxic water an there are many who ont have access to safe drinking water :-/

  6. This story and other like this is why we need to invest in our infrastructure. If this happen in a white upper class neighborhood. It would of been taken care of...Coffee is on

  7. shocking. The issue of contaminating water, "the source of life" exists in every country. Sad though.

  8. I heard about this. It's awful. You'd think they'd be more careful about the water they give to their citizens. But no, of course not.

  9. I am terrible about paying attention to the type of water I am drinking. I don't drink from the sink in my kitchen, but I do drink the water off my fridge "filtration" system, but who knows about that...?

  10. That is so shocking and saddened. Thank you for sharing the story to bring awareness and help.


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