Questions surface about the safety of our nation’s water supplies


In most parts of the U.S, the safety of our drinking water supply is something that’s taken for granted. That sentiment, however, is quickly changing as reports surface of lead-tainted water supplies that are impacting communities from Flint, Michigan to Newark, New Jersey.

Flint’s current water crisis has received the most national attention and many contend is also the most grievous example of negligence. Problems with the safety of the city’s water supply first surfaced after the decision was made in April of 2014 to change Flint’s water supply source from Lake Huron to the Flint River.

The river water was more corrosive which effectively caused “lead to leach from city pipes and into the drinking water.” While the city has since switched its water source back to Lake Huron, troubling questions remain about the apparent delay on the part of city and state officials in alerting resident of the risks as well a taking action to mitigate those risks.

Consequently, thousands of residents were unknowingly exposed to toxic levels of lead when they drank, cooked with and bathed in Flint’s water. Some of those residents recently filed a lawsuit against governmental officials including the state’s governor, accusing the defendants of gross negligence.

So far, the lawsuit includes a total of “seven residents and their 17 children who lawyers say have heightened lead levels.” The plaintiffs are seeking class action status which would allow other parties who discover that they have been negatively impacted to join the lawsuit at a later date. Exposure to lead has been linked to behavioral problems, cognitive deficiencies, lowered I.Q. and developmental delays. Children, whose bodies and brains are still developing, are especially at risk of suffering lead’s ill effects.

In addition to the city of Flint, news reports have surfaced related to the discovery of lead-tainted water in public school and housing buildings in other states including New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Source: Reuters, “Lawsuit over Flint, Michigan, crisis says 17 children have high lead levels,” David Bailey, March 7, 2016

USA Today, “Lead taints drinking water in hundreds of schools, day cares across USA,” Laura Ungar, March 17, 2016

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