Just how many lead pipes are there in Flint, Michigan, where the water has been undrinkable because of high lead levels? Nobody knows.
“A lot of work is being done to even understand where the lead services lines fully are, so I would say any numbers you’re hearing at this point are still speculation,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) said Wednesday.
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 But most disturbing of all was the high concentration of lead that leached from Flint’s old, outdated pipes into the water flowing to citizens’ homes, which may have exposed thousands of children to the toxic substance.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?