The Flint Lead Crisis May Be the Tip of the Iceberg

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Again within the Nineteen Sixties, a Pulitzer prize-winning scientist described the issue of childhood lead poisoning as “so nicely outlined, so neatly packaged with each causes and cures recognized, that if we don’t get rid of this social crime, our society deserves all of the disasters which were forecast for it.”

As I talk about in my video Lead in Drinking Water, “We have the information required to redress this social crime. We all know the place the lead is, how persons are uncovered, and the way it damages well being. What we lack is the political will to do what needs to be executed.” Sadly, “many coverage makers consider the prices of motion primarily in financial and monetary phrases and ignore the prices of inaction on human well being and communities’ livelihoods.”

“At this level, most People have heard of the avoidable and abject failure of presidency on the native, state and federal stage; environmental authorities; and water firm officers”—in actual fact, failure throughout the board—“to forestall the mass poisoning of tons of of youngsters and adults in Flint, Michigan.”

“A authorities plan to save some cash had led public officers to change town’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, as soon as the sewer for the auto business.” Flint residents “complained that their faucet water was foul and discolored. However metropolis, state, and federal officers took no heed.”

Why? May it have something to do with the truth that those that complained are “among the many poorest in America, principally African American”?

Officers did not act for eighteen months, “till a neighborhood pediatrician revealed dramatically elevated lead ranges in kids’s blood.” An investigation didn’t simply discover fault however highlighted seeming falsification of water-quality outcomes to maintain individuals at the hours of darkness.

Although “the precise breed of alleged authorities corruption” could be distinctive to Flint, “the tip outcome won’t be so uncommon within the USA—dwelling to an ageing water system.” Because the president of the Youngsters’s Well being Fund mentioned, “The Pandora’s field is now vast open.” Flint could be solely “the tip of an unlimited iceberg”—probably “simply certainly one of an excellent many icebergs.”

“Along with lead-based paint and residual lead in soil”—discovered all over the place from leaded gasoline—“a big supply of childhood lead publicity happens by way of ingesting water because of leaching from lead pipes, lead solder, or brass fixtures.” This has been recognized to be a well being difficulty in the USA as early as 1845, a yr our flag solely had 26 stars. But, using lead in water pipes and solder was not restricted till the Secure Consuming Water Act Modification, 141 years later. Was town you’re residing in constructed earlier than 1986 when the modification was handed? Right now, the “precise variety of lead water pipes presently in use shouldn’t be clear” as about one in three cities surveyed shrugged their shoulders, “not with the ability to state how a lot lead piping exists.”

There are anti-corrosion chemical substances you’ll be able to add to faucet water to attempt to maintain the lead within the pipes. Flint may have executed that, but it surely may have price about $100 a day. Right now, “the price of repairing the Flint water system is estimated at $1.5 billion…”

Let me shut with a quote from the heroic pediatrician who blew the whistle, Dr. Hanna-Attisha. She was requested, “What recommendation would you’ve gotten for different physicians taking over a whistle-blower function?” She replied, “That is our job. Because of this we went to medical college—to assist individuals.”

Wasn’t there lead in paint, too, for the longest time? Sure, and that’s the topic of my video How the Lead Paint Industry Got Away with It. And what about leaded gasoline? What number of of you keep in mind going to the pumps and seeing the selection between leaded and unleaded? That’s the topic of How the Leaded Gas Industry Got Away with It.


I additionally get into what the consequences are and what we will do about it. Try:

In well being,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: For those who haven’t but, you’ll be able to subscribe to my free movies here and watch my stay shows:



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