The city of Flint, Michigan, is seeing a rise in cases of a bacterial illness called shigellosis, and the ongoing water crisis there may be in part to blame, according to news reports.
About six months ago, just as Flint began to acknowledge its lead crisis, a water testing expert from an EPA task force predicted that “every major city east of the Mississippi” was underestimating lead levels in their water. A big report from the NRDC now confirms that about 18 million Americans are living with lead testing violations.
On Wednesday, prosecutors will announce the first criminal charges related tothe contaminated drinking water and subsequent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed 12 people in Flint, Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The FBI is joining a U.S. investigation into Flint, Michigan’s water contamination crisis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit said on Tuesday.
For the past year and a half, citizens of Flint, Michigan have been struggling to get clean, safe water to drink. The city switched its water source from the Detroit water supply to the Flint river, causing a slew of public health problems, including high concentrations of E. coli bacteria and a recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed 10. But most disturbing of all was the high concentration of lead that leached from Flint’s old, outdated pipes into the water flowing to citizens’ homes, which may have exposed thousands of children to the toxic substance. How, exactly, does lead exposure affect a child, and are the effects permanent?