The city of Flint, Michigan, a majority-black city of about 99,000, is in the midst of a toxic water crisis. In April 2014, the city was disconnected from Detroit’s water supply, which is an hour south of Flint, and instead began to use water from the Flint river.

In 2013, Flint and Genesee County, under state emergency management, voted to form a new water authority to source its water from Lake Huron after complaints mounted about how expensive Detroit’s water was.* The city reconnected with Detroit’s water supply in October of last year, but it was too late. Researchers discovered that the above-average levels of lead in the blood of the city’s children had doubled.

According to the Washington Post, “a group of Virginia Tech researchers who sampled the water in 271 Flint homes last summer found that some contained lead levels high enough to meet the EPA’s definition of ‘toxic waste’.”

The Fiscal Times reports, “for a year or more, tens of thousands of residents were exposed to lead in their drinking water – a metal  that can cause behavior problems and learning disabilities in infants and children — while state officials chose to ignore complaints or slow-walked their responses.”

Let’s not underestimate the irreversible damage lead does to the body, especially the brain. Let’s also remember that this is a community where 8 percent of the population (nearly 8,000 kids) are under the age of 5.

In addition to that, state officials have confirmed that there has been an increase in Legionnaire’s disease, an often-deadly form of pneumonia usually spread through mist coming from a water source, in the surrounding county of Genesee. The state’s top prosecutor has launched a probe into the crisis to see if there is any evidence of unlawful activity.

Photo: giphy
Photo: giphy

*An earlier version of this post stated that Flint opted out of using Detroit’s water supply, which wasn’t completely accurate.