WBEZ | drinking water http://www.wbez.org/tags/drinking-water Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en After Decades of Job Losses, Failing Schools and Crime, Water Crisis is Just the Latest Catastrophe to Hit Flint http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2016-01-22/after-decades-job-losses-failing-schools-and-crime-water-crisis-just <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/flint.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder apologized to the citizens of his state and to the residents of the city of Flint &mdash; people who have been dealing with the aftermath of lead-tainted water for more than a year, something that&#39;s led to brain damage in some children.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m sorry most of all that I let you down. You deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know that the buck stops here with me,&quot; Snyder said during his State of the State address.</p><p dir="ltr">Snyder is asking the state legislature for $28 million to spend on diagnostic tests, health treatment for children and adolescents, replacement of old fixtures in Flint schools and daycare centers, and a study of the city&#39;s water pipes.</p><p dir="ltr">Ron Fournier, the senior political columnist at the National Journal, interviewed Snyder in December and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/s/126092/refreshing-approach-politics-michigan" target="_blank">praised</a>&nbsp;him for his governing style.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s re&shy;fresh&shy;ing to see a politi&shy;cian as pas&shy;sion&shy;ate about gov&shy;ern&shy;ing as he is about win&shy;ning,&rdquo; Fournier wrote.</p><p dir="ltr">But new revelations have surfaced that showed Snyder had ignored the Flint crisis&nbsp;for months.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this week, Fournier re-interviewed Snyder, who called Flint his &quot;<a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/s/352793/snyder-calls-flint-his-katrina-catastrophic-failure-leadership" target="_blank">Katrina</a>&rdquo; and said that losing the public&#39;s trust has been among the worst experiences of his life.&nbsp;Fournier has also&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/s/352795/how-government-this-columnist-failed-michigan-city?oref=t.co" target="_blank">done some soul searching</a>&nbsp;of his own and argues that America should be asking itself more than a few questions about this disaster.</p><div id="content-titles" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; font-family: Georgia, serif; vertical-align: baseline;"><h1 style="margin: 0px 0px 4px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 16px; line-height: 21px; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2016-01-22/indifference-no-smoking-gun-michigan-governor%E2%80%99s-emails-flint-crisis" target="_blank">Indifference, But No Smoking Gun in Michigan Governor&rsquo;s Emails on Flint Crisis</a></h1></div><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Why does a community like Flint get neglected? Why is a community like Flint allowed to be poisoned by its city, its state and its federal government, and nobody seems to care when they get caught?&rdquo; he asks. &ldquo;Why is it that it took the national press so long to get engaged in the story? Why has the president of the United States still not talked about the culpability of his administration? Why did it take Snyder so long to say I&rsquo;m sorry?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">As relief slowly flows into Flint, Fournier, a Detroit native, says America should have been paying attention &mdash; and getting angry &mdash; long ago as Flint and other Rust Belt cities suffered under the weight of decades of job losses, failing schools&nbsp;and terrible crime.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Why is the city of Flint allowed to waste away? It&rsquo;s poor,&rdquo; Fournier says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s not a lot of power in Flint and there&rsquo;s not a lot of money in Flint, and we live in a society now where celebrity and money equal power. If you have power, you get attention and you get what you need. If you don&rsquo;t have power, you get left behind.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In late December, Dan Wyant, the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, resigned from his position. Fournier says the agency knew there was too much lead in the water for months and actively minimized the situation &mdash; at times officials even took a &ldquo;dismissive&rdquo; and &ldquo;arrogant&rdquo; tone when meeting with Flint residents who were concerned.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They were involved in protecting their butts,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;They weren&rsquo;t involved in solving the problem.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Additionally, Fournier argues that the Obama Administration has some culpability in this public health emergency. He says that the Environmental Protection Agency&rsquo;s Mid&shy;w&shy;est Chief Susan Hedman &mdash; an Obama appointee &mdash; &rdquo;buried&rdquo; the results of a test that showed potential problems with Flint&rsquo;s water system as early as February of 2015.&nbsp;Hedman resigned Thursday night.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Whether [these lawmakers and officials] resign or not, frankly I don&rsquo;t care,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I just want the lead pipes that have been decaying in that city for at least 30 years to be replaced. I want every kid who&rsquo;s going to have a lifetime of brian damage to have the services they need so they can live as decent of a life as they can with the lead that our governments put in their system.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Fournier hopes Flint will get a revival, but he also believes that, fundamentally, the crisis in Flint is an indictment of all us, and something that begs the question: Do Flint lives matter?</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They do now &mdash; they didn&rsquo;t a few months ago,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;With the history of that state and this country, as soon as we move away from people that are poor and don&rsquo;t have a voice, their lives matter less. And they&rsquo;ve got to matter.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">As people from around the nation watch this slow moving disaster unfold from the comfort of their living rooms, Fournier says that Americans must not forget this tragedy.</p></p> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 10:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/takeaway/2016-01-22/after-decades-job-losses-failing-schools-and-crime-water-crisis-just Flint Mayor: 'Politics and Profit' Perpetuated Lead-Tainted-Water Crisis http://www.wbez.org/news/flint-mayor-politics-and-profit-perpetuated-lead-tainted-water-crisis-114566 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/2016-01-21-karen-weaver-flint-mayor-0024edit_custom-4b7da411e1d02607f841bea626642a92d3a8d880-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res463868853" previewtitle="Karen Weaver was elected mayor of Flint, Mich., after promising to address the city's water-contamination issues."><div data-crop-type="">High lead levels in Flint, Mich.&#39;s water has led President Obama to declare a state of emergency, as criticism mounts that the problem has not been handled promptly.</div></div><p>&quot;The people weren&#39;t put first, the health of the people was not put before profit and money,&quot; Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/21/463865286/flint-mayor-with-water-crisis-lawmakers-put-profit-over-the-people">in an interview with Ari Shapiro on&nbsp;</a><a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/21/463865286/flint-mayor-with-water-crisis-lawmakers-put-profit-over-the-people">All Things Considered</a>.</p><p>The problem started when Flint switched its water source to the Flint River in April 2014. The new supply was harder water, which corroded the city&#39;s pipes and leached lead into the tap water.</p><p>Residents quickly started complaining about the water. General Motors stopped using it in October 2014 because&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2015/10/gm.html">it was corroding machinery</a>.</p><p>Even though the city switched back to its original supply in October 2015, the damaged pipes continue to contaminate the water. Weaver says Flint residents don&#39;t know when the city&#39;s water will be safe to drink again &mdash; even though they&#39;re still paying for it.</p><p>The lead levels and complaints about how the problem is being handled have led to the resignation Thursday of Susan Hedman, the regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency.</p><p>Also Thursday, the head of the EPA issued an emergency order directing state and city officials to take actions to protect public health.</p><p>President Obama&#39;s declaration of a state of emergency last week freed up $5 million in federal aid for the city.</p><p>Weaver was not in office when this started. She was elected in November after vowing to address the city&#39;s water problems, and as Michigan Radio&#39;s Lindsey Smith&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/17/463405757/whos-to-blame-for-flints-water-problem">reports</a>, &quot;one of the first things she did was to declare an emergency in the city.&quot;</p><p>Flint residents have consistently voiced frustration over the time it has taken for officials to acknowledge this crisis and respond to it. Flint is a majority-black city, and 40 percent of people live below the poverty line. Weaver tells Ari that she thinks race and poverty &quot;had a lot to do with the response.&quot;</p><p><strong>On meeting President Obama</strong></p><p>Weaver met the president and some of his senior advisers earlier this week to discuss Flint&#39;s crisis.</p><p>&quot;[H]e has pledged to do everything that he can at the federal level and has, in fact, sent people to Flint to get started on this, past the FEMA [assistance] that has already been in place. One of the things he stressed is that he was going to be meeting with the governor the very next day, because the state has such a big role to play in this and we know the state has money. They have a rainy-day fund, a surplus between $500 and $600 million, and Flint needs to be the priority for receiving those funds.&quot;</p><p><strong>On 274 pages of emails about Flint released by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder</strong></p><p>Snyder made the emails public on Wednesday following widespread criticism. He said he was releasing them &quot;so that you have answers to your questions about what we&#39;ve done and what we&#39;re doing to make this right for the families of Flint.&quot;</p><p><strong>Here&#39;s what Weaver had to say:</strong></p><p>&quot;I haven&#39;t seen what&#39;s in those emails but I will tell you this &mdash; it&#39;s something that he needed to do because one of the issues we&#39;ve been dealing with is broken trust. And we&#39;ve been kept in the dark regarding some information regarding our water. We&#39;ve been given misinformation about the water, and the only way the governor can &mdash; if he can &mdash; rebuild trust, is to start doing that. So it&#39;s a start for him, I suppose.&quot;</p><p><strong>On calls for Snyder to resign</strong></p><p>&quot;You know what, I&#39;m glad those high-profile figures are out there, and they&#39;re putting the pressure on the governor and holding him accountable for some things. What I&#39;ve said is, we have an investigation going on and I can&#39;t wait to hear the results of that investigation because everybody that should be held accountable needs to be held accountable. We want to know who knew what and when they knew it. And that&#39;s from the governor, all the way down to if it includes local officials. We want everyone to be held accountable and if it means they have to be removed, so be it.&quot;</p><p><strong>On long-term solutions</strong></p><p>Weaver says the city is receiving badly needed bottled water and filters &mdash; but these are only temporary answers for the larger problem.</p><p>&quot;The other thing we need to do is start looking at infrastructure. Because even though we&#39;ve switched back to Lake Huron water through Detroit, those lead service lines are the issue. And how long are we supposed to wait for biofilm to build back up? Nobody can tell us how long that can take. And we need to be able to drink our water.&quot;</p><p><strong>On her hopes for Flint&#39;s future</strong></p><p>&quot;You know, it&#39;s a terrible thing, no community should ever have to go through what Flint has gone through, but I&#39;m also looking at the possibility of what can come out of this. And I&#39;ve always believed in Flint, I&#39;m excited about the potential, and you know, we&#39;ve got to get this fixed. But there is a lot to look forward to in the city of Flint. And you&#39;re going to have me back, because I&#39;m going to be telling the second part of this story.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/21/463861880/flint-mayor-politics-and-profit-perpetuated-lead-tainted-water-crisis?ft=nprml&amp;f=463861880" target="_blank"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 10:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/flint-mayor-politics-and-profit-perpetuated-lead-tainted-water-crisis-114566 Researchers Investigating How Lead Exposure Could Affect DNA http://www.wbez.org/news/researchers-investigating-how-lead-exposure-could-affect-dna-114514 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/drinking_fountain_0.png" alt="" /><p><p>Researchers are looking into the possible ripple effects of lead exposure.&nbsp;</p><div><div><div>After the city of Flint switched to the Flint River for its drinking water<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/lead-poisoning-michigan-highlights-aging-water-systems-nationwide-114352" target="_blank">, experts found the number of kids with elevated levels of lead in their blood doubled</a>.</div></div></div><p>Even low levels of lead can cause kids to lose IQ points and end up with behavior problems.</p><p><strong>Lead and DNA</strong></p><p>A recent study suggests lead exposure can cause changes to DNA that might affect several generations.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Doug Ruden is the Director of Epigenomics at the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at Wayne State University. He tested 35 moms and their babies in Detroit.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>To do this, he tested blood lead levels in neonatal blood spots from the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mnbb.org/">Michigan Neonatal Biobank</a>. The biobank collects blood spots from all newborn babies in the state, and has done so since 1984.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We recruited young mothers who were born after 1984 and got permission to measure their blood lead levels,&rdquo; Ruden says.</p><p><a href="http://www.nature.com/articles/srep14466">They observed</a>&nbsp;a correlation between elevated blood lead levels in the mothers and changes in DNA.</p><p>&ldquo;If the mothers had high blood lead levels when they were born, then their grandchildren have changes in their DNA,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And the changes in the DNA we were looking at weren&rsquo;t mutations &mdash; they weren&rsquo;t permanent changes &mdash; but they&rsquo;re what we call epigenetic mutations. They&rsquo;re changes in DNA methylation.&rdquo;</p><p>Ruden says these sorts of changes control gene expression.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s thought that&rsquo;s how lead causes neurobehavioral defects &mdash; or loss of IQ in children,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not by directly mutating the DNA, but altering their DNA methylation.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What does this mean?</strong></p><p>Ruden says they don&#39;t know if these changes in DNA are good, bad or neutral. He says they need to do more studies to learn what this could mean.</p><p>&ldquo;Mothers who are exposed to lead in the water, for instance, can not only affect their children&rsquo;s IQ but can also affect, potentially, the IQ of their grandchildren,&rdquo; Ruden says. &ldquo;We know the DNA is affected, but we don&rsquo;t know right now &mdash; we&rsquo;re continuing to study this &mdash; we don&rsquo;t know right now whether these changes in the DNA in the grandchildren can also affect their IQ.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>A Russian nesting doll</strong></p><p>Ruden says they&#39;re studying how exposures in pregnancy can affect not just the baby a mom is carrying, but also her grandbabies.</p><p>&ldquo;The way you think about it is: if a mother is pregnant with a baby, she&rsquo;s also carrying the baby&rsquo;s children too,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Because it&rsquo;s like a Russian doll.&rdquo;</p><p>He says a fetus develops fetal germ cells while still inside its mother.</p><p>&ldquo;So all of the eggs that a person has in life are actually developed in the fetus, during the fetal period, and all the sperm progenitor cells in the boy babies, the boy fetuses, are also present in the fetus,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So when a mother drinks leaded water, like what happened in Flint, she&rsquo;s exposing her fetus, so that&rsquo;s going to directly affect brain development of her baby.&rdquo;</p><p>But he says, there could be effects on the next generation too.</p><p>&ldquo;What most people don&rsquo;t realize is that you&rsquo;re also expressing the germ line cells, and that can affect the grandchildren, and even potentially beyond that,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>One important caveat here: this study is small. Ruden says it will need to be repeated on larger scales and in different populations.</p><p>&ldquo;It is well established in animal models, though &mdash; like in mice and rats &mdash; that environmental exposures to compounds such as lead can have effects for many generations,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So this isn&rsquo;t entirely surprising.&rdquo;</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/researchers-investigating-how-lead-exposure-could-affect-dna#stream/0" target="_blank">via Michigan Radio</a></em></p></p> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 12:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/researchers-investigating-how-lead-exposure-could-affect-dna-114514 More Help Headed to Flint Residents in Need of Lead-Free Water http://www.wbez.org/news/more-help-headed-flint-residents-need-lead-free-water-114438 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/flint_fire_stationgiveaway_011116_002.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img src="http://michiganradio.org/sites/michigan/files/styles/x_large/public/201601/flint_fire_stationgiveaway_011116_002.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="An American Red Cross volunteer stacks cases of bottled water at Flint fire station #3. (Michigan Radio/Steve Carmody)" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><figcaption><div><div><div>This week, state and local&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cityofflint.com/2016/01/10/flint-city-leaders-county-state-officials-announce-relief-effort-expansion/">efforts are being stepped up&nbsp;</a>to help people in Flint have clean water.</div></div></div></figcaption></p><p>Flint&rsquo;s tap water is not safe to drink because of lead contamination. &nbsp;The problem dates back to the city&rsquo;s switch to the Flint River as its primary drinking water source. Mistakes with the way the water was treated allowed corrosive river water to seriously damage aging water pipes. The city switched back to a less corrosive water source last fall, but the damage was done.&nbsp;</p><p>This month, Gov. Snyder declared a &lsquo;State of Emergency&rsquo; in Flint.&nbsp;</p><p>This morning, American Red Cross volunteers helped a steady stream of people walking into Fire Station #3 in Flint to pick up free water filters and cases of bottled water. People patiently waited in a bitterly cold garage as volunteers filled out paperwork and helped them carry cases of bottled water to cars in the parking lot.&nbsp;</p><p>Like other people standing in line, Tateionia Rice says she&rsquo;s glad to see help finally coming.</p><p>&ldquo;Hey, can&rsquo;t turn down free water,&rdquo; says Rice, &ldquo;and can&rsquo;t turn down what the city of Flint is trying to do for us.&rdquo;</p><p>In addition to extended hours at water distribution sites around Flint, teams of state workers will fan out across the city this week to reach people who need water filters and bottled water.&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/more-help-coming-people-flint-need-lead-free-water#stream/0" target="_blank"><em>via Michigan Radio</em></a></p></p> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 10:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-help-headed-flint-residents-need-lead-free-water-114438 Illinois drinking water supplier deals with low river http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-drinking-water-supplier-deals-low-river-104134 <p><p>EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill.&nbsp; &mdash; The utility that supplies drinking water to more than 250,000 residents in southwestern Illinois is taking emergency measures due to the low level of the Mississippi River.</p><p>The Belleville News-Democrat <a href="http://bit.ly/Uw7gBt" target="_blank">reports</a> that officials with Illinois American Water say the measures are needed so that the water supply doesn&#39;t dry up for communities in Madison and St. Clair counties.</p><p>Spokeswoman Karen Cotton says Illinois American Water is investing about $400,000 at the East St. Louis water treatment plant. She says that will allow access to water at a much deeper level of the Mississippi River than the utility&#39;s usual intakes can reach.</p><p>Cotton says company officials believe the move will keep water flowing to customers even if the drought-stricken Mississippi River drops to record-setting low water levels.</p></p> Fri, 30 Nov 2012 10:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-drinking-water-supplier-deals-low-river-104134 Most Illinois drinking water meets standards http://www.wbez.org/story/most-illinois-drinking-water-meets-standards-87884 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-15/7150122_2bf77eb8ef.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Most of the drinking water in Illinois met state and federal health requirements last year.&nbsp;</p><p>The <a href="http://www.epa.state.il.us/">Illinois Environmental Protection Agency </a>says data show 96.8 percent of people who got Illinois water supplies last year received drinking water that met&nbsp; all health requirements. That's 1.8 percent better than in 2009.&nbsp;</p><p>The state agency recently sent an annual compliance report to the <a href="http://www.epa.gov/">U.S. Environmental Protection Agency</a>. Community water supplies serve more than 12&nbsp; million people in Illinois.&nbsp;</p><p>Illinois EPA interim director Lisa Bonnett says the agency's goal is for publicly provided water to be "consistently safe to drink." She says the latest data show&nbsp; progress toward that goal.&nbsp;</p><p>---<br> Online:<br> Illinois EPA compliance and enforcement reports:<br> <a href="http://bit.ly/lbzDng">http://bit.ly/lbzDng</a><br> <br> (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.&nbsp; All Rights Reserved.)<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 15 Jun 2011 16:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/most-illinois-drinking-water-meets-standards-87884