City water quality is something that people may not think about very often, but the people of Flint, Michigan recently learned the hard way that it is always important to pay attention to any changes in your drinking water. This type of public health crisis is not something we would expect to find in a major American city, but individuals living in this hard-hit city are finding that their water contains dangerously high levels of lead.
Switching Water Sources
Back in early 2014, the city of Flint decided to switch water sources in an effort to economize. Unfortunately, the new and less-expensive water supply was being routed through corroded pipes, and the saltiness of the water caused even more degradation of the system. This combination caused lead to be introduced into the water system over the past two years. The U.S. government and President Obama have declared a state of emergency in Flint, authorizing FEMA to provide additional water, water filters, cartridges and water test kits for the next few months. In the meantime, there are many discussions about how this was able to go unnoticed for so long.
Residents started complaining about the smell, taste and appearance of the water in the past few months, and some children that have been tested are even showing elevated lead levels in their bloodstream, something that can be dangerous if not deadly. Several cases of Legionnaires' disease may have been linked to the high lead levels in the public water supply as well.
High levels of lead in the blood can be especially dangerous for children and can cause problems with brain, kidney, and bone marrow functions, just to name a few. High lead levels can lead to vomiting, confusion, headaches, seizures, hair loss, anemia, and even muscle weakness and belly pain at the highest exposure levels. Low-level lead poisoning can lead to less severe symptoms that are more behavioral in nature, such as lower IQs, learning difficulties and trouble paying attention in school. While most people think of lead poisoning as something that occurs from nibbling on peeling lead-based paint in older homes, this latest scare in Flint will have people thinking twice about their water quality.
Better Safe than Sorry
While this particular incident happened in Flint, Michigan, it should bring to light the fact that people trust their government to provide safe and sanitary water supplies. However, mistakes do happen. If you have any concerns about your water quality, give Chicago plumber John Baethke & Son Plumbing a call. We can help educate you on water testing services that are available in your area and come check things out if you're concerned with your system.
While it will likely be years before the political fallout and the potential dangers from the lead-laced water in Flint, Michigan, are fully understood, don't waste time if you think there might be something wrong with your water. Active and alert citizens in Flint were the ones who identified that the water tasted and smelled odd, which eventually prompted the testing and investigation. If you think something is off, let a plumber and local government officials know as soon as possible.