We Now Know Just How Bad the Flint Water Crisis Was for Pregnant Women – Olga Khazan Nov. 10, 2017 6:00 AM

A new study shows a major spike in miscarriages.

A Flint resident holds up a bottle of the city’s water along with hair pulled from her drain.Molly Riley/AP

This story was originally published by The Atlantic and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

When the city of Flint, Michigan, temporarily switched its water source to the Flint River in 2014, it didn’t treat the water properly. The untreated river water corroded pipes, allowing lead to leach into the water. Tests found lead levels in the region’s water to be higher than that of hazardous waste, but the city failed to warn residents of the danger for months. State officials are now facing criminal charges for their role.

The devastating health consequences of this lapse are now becoming clear. A recent paper finds that the city’s lead crisis may have sparked a drop in birth rates and a precipitous rise in miscarriages. For the working paper, Daniel Grossman from West Virginia University and David Slusky from the University of Kansas compared fertility rates in Flint to those in other Michigan cities before and after Flint changed its water source in 2014.

They found that fertility, or the birth rate, declined by 12 percent among Flint women, and the fetal death rate increased by 58 percent. The authors describe the difference as “horrifyingly large,” but say it’s also an undercount, because it doesn’t include miscarriages that happened before the 20th week of gestation, which is when most hospitals start counting. It did not appear that women were worried about the lead and opting not to have kids—sadly, it seemed more likely that they weren’t aware of the lead threat.

Fertility Rate in Flint and Comparison Cities

Grossman and Slusky

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Nestle’s Poland Spring Is Common Groundwater, New Suit Alleges By Patricia Hurtado August 19, 2017, 9:53 AM PDT

Nestle SA’s Poland Spring Water unit has duped American consumers into paying premium prices for ordinary ground water that’s pumped from some of Maine’s most populated areas, rather than from natural springs as the company advertises, according to a lawsuit.

While Poland Springs says its water bottles contain “100 percent natural spring water” from a source deep in Maine’s woods, the complaint filed August 15 in federal court in Connecticut claims that Nestle Waters North America has bottled well water that doesn’t meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s definition of spring water. The suit, which includes claims for breach of contract and fraud, also seeks unspecified damages for violations of state laws including New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.

None of Poland Spring Water’s eight purported “natural spring” sites contains a genuine spring under FDA rules, according to the suit. “One or more” of the company’s largest volume groundwater collection sites — which the suit says supplies up to 99 percent of the water in Poland Spring Water products — are near a current or former refuse pit, landfill or petroleum dump site, the plaintiffs say.

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Google Moves In And Wants To Pump 1.5 Million Gallons Of Water Per Day – Sarah McCammon May 8, 2017 5:00 AM ET

Google wants to pump 1.5 million gallons of water per day to cool servers at its data center in Berkeley County, S.C. “It’s great to have Google in this region,” conservationist Emily Cedzo said. “So by no means are we going after Google … Our concern, primarily, is the source of that water.” | Bruce Smith/AP

When three sacred staples of the South weren’t safe from the cloudy, salty water in his town, Clay Duffie knew there was a problem.

“It’d kill your azaleas if you irrigated with it; your grits would come out in a big clump, instead of creamy like they should,” Duffie said.

Even the sweet tea.

“Your tea would come out all cloudy,” Duffie said. “Oh man, it was bad news.”

Duffie, the general manager of Mount Pleasant Waterworks, said before his agency outside Charleston began purifying the water in the early 1990s, the water was also soft; you’d come out of the shower and still feel dirty, he recalled.

Today, Duffie has a new concern — a request by Google for permission from South Carolina regulators to pump more groundwater than they’re already entitled to for their data center in nearby Berkeley County.

“We’ve invested a lot in making sure the groundwater quality that we treat and send to the customers is of high quality. We also want to protect the quantity side of that,” Duffie said.

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The 10 Best Moments From the Democratic Debate in Flint – | —By Hannah Levintova and Julia Lurie Mon Mar. 7, 2016 12:21 AM EST

 Behold the “Bern-splain.”

Carlos Osorio/AP

During Sunday night’s Democratic debate, hosted by CNN at the University of Michigan in Flint, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders answered several questions posed by residents of the city that is still reeling after lead-tainted water flowed through its pipes for 18 months. With just a few days to go until the primaries on Tuesday in Michigan, where 147 delegates will be at stake, these audience members and moderators Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon pushed Sen. Sanders and former Secretary of State Clinton to answer tough questions about poverty, religion, dismal schools, and whether the pair’s fairly recent interest in Flint is just a political tactic. Later in the debate, the candidates also tussled on guns, race, Hillary’s Wall Street speeches, fracking, and more. Notably, they spent hardly any time discussing their combative Republican rivals.

Here were the must-see moments:

1) Bernie and Hillary rip into the handling of the Flint crisis. Both called for Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s resignation—for the first time, in Clinton’s case. Clinton went on to blast the state government for its response to the crisis. “It is raining lead in Flint, and the state is derelict in not coming forward with the money that is required,” she said. As the crowd applauded, Sanders criticized the city’s sky-high water bills—calling for a retroactive refund of the bills that residents paid for lead-tainted water.

2) A Flint mom asks what the candidates will do about lead contamination. LeeAnne Walters, a mother of four from Flint who was partly responsible for exposing the crisis, asked the candidates if they would make a “personal promise” that they would require all lead service lines removed within their first 100 days in office. Sanders promised to make sure every water system was tested, while Clinton went further, saying she would commit to “remove lead from everywhere” within five years.

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Selling The Health Benefits Of Denver’s Tap Water — After Flint – JOHN DALEY Updated February 13, 20167:51 AM ET Published February 13, 20165:34 AM ET

A group of community leaders from Denver's Westwood neighborhood toured the Waterton Canyon Reservoir in late October, to learn how the city's water is filtered and treated.

A group of community leaders from Denver’s Westwood neighborhood toured the Waterton Canyon Reservoir in late October, to learn how the city’s water is filtered and treated. Courtesy of Cavities Get Around

The crisis of contaminated water in Flint, Mich., is making a public health message like this one harder to get across: In most communities, the tap water is perfectly safe. And it is much healthier than sugary drinks.

That’s a message that Dr. Patty Braun, a pediatrician and oral health specialist at Denver Health, spends a lot of time talking to her patients about.

“Over half of kindergartners have cavities,” Braun says, and the Latino kids she treats seem especially prone to tooth decay. She also notes that more than half of the Latino families she sees don’t drink tap water. And if the kids don’t drink tap water, she says, they don’t get the fluoride in it to protect their teeth.

Instead of tap water, many children gulp down sodas or juice — a double whammy that can mean more cavities and weight gain.

In some families, Braun says, a stigma against water from the faucet has been passed on through generations. And some recent immigrants, she says, hesitate to drink it based on prior experience with contaminated tap water in their native countries.

“If you’re used to living in a place where you would normally not want to drink the water because it’s not safe, then that’s what you’re going to bring over to any other new setting,” says Braun.

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Beyond Flint: In The South, Another Water Crisis Has Been Unfolding For Years – NPR Staff Updated February 6, 201610:26 AM ET Published February 6, 2016 6:20 AM ET

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at Feb 6, 2016 1.42

St. Joseph, La., seen from a height.

St. Joseph, La., seen from a height.

Courtesy of Garrett Boyte

It’s not simply Flint that has bad water. The Michigan city, which has grabbed headlines recently for its rampant water contamination, is joined in that dubious distinction by another town, much farther south: St. Joseph, La.

“It’s just a given fact that at some point during the week, you’re going to have brown or yellow water,” says resident Garrett Boyte.

Boyte says there have been problems with the water there for a decade, but it’s only in the past few weeks that St. Joseph has gotten any media attention.

“What’s happening here in St. Joseph got the attention it’s gotten because Flint has made water a public issue,” he says. “And what I try to tell people is, this isn’t just happening in St. Joseph or in Flint. It’s happening in Louisiana, it’s happening in Kentucky and Tennessee and Mississippi and in areas of poor and disenfranchised communities across the country.”

The cause of the dark water in St. Joseph seems to be a broken pipe in the community’s aging system. While local officials have said it’s not dangerous, the break in the pipe could be a warning.

“Most of their issues seem to be around pipes that are 90 years old and are constantly being repaired,” says Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana’s state health officer.


How The Flint Water Crisis Could Send An Entire Generation To Prison – BY CARIMAH TOWNES JAN 22, 2016 10:58 AM



As Flint residents deal with the consequences of poisoned water, lawmakers, activists, and locals are already predicting what the crisis means for the future of the city.

Mayor Karen Weaver has pointed out that the disaster could devastate the juvenile justice system in the future.

“This damage to children is irreversible and can cause effects to a child’s IQ, which will result in learning disabilities…and an increase in the juvenile justice system,” she said when a state of emergency over lead levels was declared in December.

The current juvenile justice system in Flint is already rife with problems. It doesn’t have money to repair a detention center with non-functioning mechanical systems. Teenagers who are 17 years old are tried and sentenced as adults and housed with older offenders. Thousands of kids are arrested in school for minor disciplinary infractions.

With the water crisis still unresolved, experts believe the worst of the physical and psychological damage is still yet to come. And when it does, it will hit the already-troubled system hard.

“When children whose brains are actively developing are impacted by lead poisoning in particular…it can have a very deleterious effect on kids’ IQ and, ultimately, their behavior,” Frank Vandervort, clinical professor of law and co-founder of the Juvenile Justice Clinic at the University of Michigan, told ThinkProgress. “The kids who are likely to come in contact with the juvenile justice system tend to be kids who have had developmental disabilities, who have mental health problems.”

Lead poisoning causes mental retardation, shortened attention spans, and other behavioral disorders in children. It specifically damages the section of the brain that manages impulses and emotions. And recent research has linked childhood lead poisoning to violent crime. A study of children in Chicago found a shocking correlation between aggravated assault rates over time and exposure to lead. A similar study of young adults in Cincinnati who had lead poisoning in their blood as babies and small children, had a higher risk of arrest depending on how much lead they were exposed to.

“Most kids at some point in their adolescence violate a law,” Vandervort continued. “They drink and drive, they drink and are underage, they try marijuana, they smoke cigarettes…shoplift. But the kids who are more apt to be prosecuted are the kids who tend to have more severe problems.”

And for children who are already over-criminalized in Flint’s schools, impaired brain development could make things worse for them.

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