There’s no overlooking the political issues associated with the water crisis in Flint, Michigan but the simple fact is that political infighting and stalled legislative action is only a small part of the expanding picture in Flint.
Exposure to low quality water has some dangerous health implications, especially for small children and people with weakened immune systems. Prolonged exposure begins to affect everyone who comes in contact with the water in varying degrees, and the longer lead-tainted water is the only viable source of water in large quantities for the people of Flint, the more prevalent these effects will become.
Here are some of the ways in which the crisis puts the people it threatens in dangerous health scenarios, in some cases for life.
Lead-Tainted Water Affects Children The Most
Not including unborn children receiving contaminants through their mother’s systems, an estimated 6,000 to 12,000 Flint kids have already been exposed to levels of lead that are high enough to damage their major body systems.
As far as intervention, expectant mothers and families with the youngest children are priorities for programs that assist Flint citizens in acquiring clean water. When these populations are exposed to lead, the metal causes nervous system damage and can stunt brain growth while a child is barely beginning to exhibit cognitive development.
The Damages Last Long After Exposure
What you may not realize about the ongoing situation in Flint is that while the crisis might end in the eyes of the public, the effects of tainted water is just beginning for the affected families.
These damages pertain mainly in children. Damage from exposure to the water results in developing neurological disorders like chronic stress and depression, loss of brain ability and experts agree that long-term or permanent brain damage is almost a certain result.
So far, no medical treatment has been successful in reversing the effects of such brain damage, meaning that children of the crisis will carry the weight of the poor water quality for likely their entire lives.
The Water’s Lead Levels Affect Everyone
While kids are undoubtedly the population in most danger as a result of the Flint water crisis, it is important to remember that everyone who comes in contact with lead-tainted water sees the the effect on their health.
Since the start of 2015, people of all ages have been reporting skin rashes and disorders as a result of exposure to the poor quality water. In some cases, Flint citizens have reported hair loss after showering in the water.
However, some of the scariest health effects may be yet to come. It may be the case that we simply don’t know the extent of the ways that lead exposure can affect citizens of a city with no relief in sight, and that as exposure is prolonged the effects grow worse and worse for the victims of the crisis.
The Damages Don’t Stop At Health Effects
The detrimental health risks posed by lead-tainted water has been felt in the community in other ways as well. The citizens of Flint have nowhere to turn as a result of the health threats, and many of them don’t have the means to get out or to consistently acquire clean water. In this case, their choices are to go without water and risk the health effects of unhealthy levels of water consumption or expose their families to dangerous levels of lead. As a result, trust in government in the areas in and around Flint is reported to be at an all-time low.
The lasting effects of the Flint Water Crisis go well beyond health, but the dangers to children and delicate populations is urgent and long-lasting, making efforts to intervene more and more crucial.