EPA: Filtered Water in Flint Safe for Pregnant Women, Kids

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By Rachel Leven

June 23 — Environmental Protection Agency data released June 23 indicate it's safe for young children and other vulnerable residents in Flint, Mich., to drink filtered tap water.

The federal government had been advising pregnant or breastfeeding women and children under the age of 6 in Flint to drink only bottled water, as the city's lead contaminated water problem is being addressed.

However, the field data collected by the EPA and assessed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry indicates that appropriately used Brita™ and Pur™ faucet filters effectively remove and limit lead exposure from Flint’s drinking water, the agencies said in a document released June 23.

“This good news shows the progress we are making with overall water quality improving in Flint but also proves further that the filters provided by the state to alleviate risks to Flint residents are very effective,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) said in a statement.

This is the latest development in the Flint water crisis, spurred by an inappropriately executed water source switch that left the city's residents exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water. A state appointed-emergency manager hired to cut Flint's costs switched the city's water source from the Detroit water system temporarily to the Flint River until it could purchase Karegnondi Water Authority water, a decision that has come under significant scrutiny as the lead-in-water crisis has evolved.

Karegnondi Water Authority

The announcement comes days after the Flint mayor announced the city would move forward with the eventual water source switch to the Karegnondi Water Authority. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said in a June 21 statement that the switch to that water authority is legally binding, and the city will follow through on it with help from Genesee County and the state.

“While some say the contracts were not in ‘good faith' I have been informed that they are legally binding,” Weaver said. “I don’t know who thought these were good decisions for Flint or why they did, but this is where we find ourselves today and we’ve got to make the best of the situation.”

The announcement also comes soon after a study on progress in addressing U.S. children's blood lead levels was released. The study, which assessed more than 5 million samples from children under the age of 6 years old between 2009 and 2015, showed a slight increase in the incidence of elevated blood lead levels during the final year of the study. The increase was unexpected, and the study called for future studies to evaluate it.

“In summary, progress in reducing the burden of lead toxicity is a public health success story that is incomplete,” said the study, “Blood Lead Levels in Young Children: US, 2009-2015”.

The study that was published in The Journal of Pediatrics was posted online June 11. Authors include Leland McClure, Justin Niles and Harvey Kaufman.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rachel Leven in Washington at rleven@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

For More Information

The EPA document is available at http://src.bna.com/gcr.

The study is available for purchase at http://src.bna.com/gdd.

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