Sunday, January 10, 2016

Flint Poisoned People

Roughly 90,000 people poisoned. In 2014, Flint's emergency manager disconnected the city from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and started providing residents with water from the Flint River. It was a cost-cutting measure that backfired—with tragic results. Almost immediately after the switch, residents noticed changes in the smell, color, and taste of the water coming out of their taps. Tests showed high levels of bacteria that forced the city to issue boil advisories. In response, the city upped its chlorine levels to kill the pathogens. This created too many disinfectant byproducts, which may increase the risk of cancer. On top of it all, because the city failed to use proper corrosion controls, lead started leaching from the pipes. Many in the community reported health problems—their hair was falling out, some suffered from osteoarthritis. That’s because their water was toxic—lead levels had skyrocketed. The Snyder administration and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ignored them for months. Despite knowing that there was a problem with lead, the state kept telling residents that the water was safe to drink. Flint finally switched the water back in October of last year, but the city now must replace thousands of lead water pipes, and its residents face a lifetime of healthcare costs from lead exposure.

Flint’s water pipes are permanently damaged, and some residents continue to receive water that is undrinkable, due to lead contamination. State relief will likely fall far short of the up to  $1.5 billion that the city will need to fix its broken water system and give residents the health care they need.

Curt Guyette, investigative reporter for the ACLU of Michigan, told Democracy Now!
“People knew from the beginning, as soon as the switch was made in April of '14, that the water was bad. It looked bad. It tasted bad. It smelled bad. And there was all sorts of problems throughout 2014. In 2015, one of the residents, LeeAnne Walters, had her water tested by the city, and the lead levels came back at over 100 parts per billion. Of course, there's no safe levels of lead whatsoever. The federal action level is 15 parts per billion.”

Common Dreams reported internal emails showed that high-level staffers were aware of lead poisoning in Flint's public water supply six months before the administration declared a state of emergency. According to the newly-released emails, which were obtained by NBC News, Snyder's chief of staff at the time, Dennis Muchmore, wrote to an unnamed high-level health department staffer: "I'm frustrated by the water issue in Flint."

"These folks are scared and worried about the health impacts and they are basically getting blown off by us (as a state we're just not sympathizing with their plight)," Muchmore wrote in the email, according to journalists Stephanie Gosk, Kevin Monahan, Tim Sandler and Hannah Rappleye. "I really don't think people are getting the benefit of the doubt," wrote Muchmore. "Now they are concerned and rightfully so about the lead level studies they are receiving."

Many Flint children have been poisoned by lead from drinking toxic water after lax state regulatory oversight. Because of young children's rapidly developing brains, effects of lead poisoning can dreadfully result in developmental delays and cognitive impairment. Toxic levels of lead in young children can result in long-term consequences ranging from lower I.Q. scores to attention issues and other significant behavioral and developmental challenges that create barriers to learning and academic success.

Public officials knowingly or negligently (hardly matters which) poisoned children. This is class warfare of the ugliest kind -- attacks on helpless innocents. The Flint kids are merely "collateral damage" to them, in a larger war. Which war,? The war of capitalists against everybody else. And they will stop at nothing! As it's been proven again and again, the capitalist class has absolutely no scruples about killing, maiming, or poisoning children -- if doing so increases profits. The capitalist class would turn the entire earth into a roaring desert if it thought this was good for dividends.

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