Dr. Nicole Lurie from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services came to Flint, Michigan to report on the lead levels found in recent testings. After testing some 4,000 homes for lead levels, 26 of them came back with devastating news. Levels in those samples tested exceed the capabilities of the NSF International certified filters that have been given out to residents.
The samples lead levels ranged from 153 parts per billion all the way up to a dangerous 4,000 parts per billion. The filters given out are only able to handle 150 parts per billion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set the regulation at 15 parts per billion though no level of lead is considered safe.
Lurie is heading the federal response to Flint’s water crisis. Mark Durno who is with the EPA is the onsite coordinator for the crisis and urges all residents to have their water tested and still has confidence in the filters. However, residents of Flint are panicked with good reason and are resorting to the bottled water given free at several sites in the city of roughly 99,000 including fire stations. Residents can pick up one case of water per day while the Red Cross has also driven through neighborhoods distributing cases.
The homeowners of the samples with those high levels are being notified and will have the water re-tested. Testing kits are provided free at City Hall where Dr. Lurie made the announcement and all fire stations.
The Flint water crisis began when the city switched to the Flint River source in April 2014 and anti-corrosion measures were not properly taken. It caused lead to leach and though the state insisted the water was safe, in Oct. 2015 it was found that it was contaminated. Residents demanded to switch back to properly treated Detroit water but the damage was already done and pipes need replacing. Biofilm has been stripped away from pipes, freeing up the lead to travel.
The EPA will continue to update on the situation.