12:32 GMT +321 February 2019
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    Poisoned, at a Price: Flint Paid Highest Rate in the US for Toxic Water

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    According to a national study released on Tuesday by Food and Water Watch, residents of Flint, Michigan, paid the highest water rates in America, for water that was maybe even more poisoned than initially estimated.

    An additional report from the Michigan Department of Community Health, from May 2015, uncovered by the Intercept this week, reveals that residents may not only have been poisoned by lead, but also exposed to perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which were found in elevated levels in the Flint River. River water testing found that Perfluorooctane Sulfonic acids (PFOS), a compound used as a fabric protector and stain repellant, exceeded levels for both non-drinking and drinking water.

    One of the PFOSs found was C8, which has been linked to health problems such as ulcerative colitis, immune suppression, and thyroid disease, as well as testicular and kidney cancers. PFOS is also linked to low birth weight.

    Meanwhile, a survey by Food and Water Watch of the 500 largest water systems in the country found that Flint residents paid approximately $864 a year for their water service — almost double the national average, and three and a half times higher than their neighbors in Detroit.

    This total is roughly 7% of the average income in the city, and the United Nations recommends that water and sewer service not exceed 3% of household income.

    "It far exceeds what the United Nations designates as affordable for water and sewer service," wrote Mary Grant, one of the study's authors. 

    The poisoning of Flint water began in April 2014, when the city stopped receiving its supply from Detroit, instead shifting to water taken directly from the Flint River, a source known to have a high corrosive salt content. Corrosive salts in the water damaged the pipes, which contain lead, causing that material to be released into the water, and contaminating it.

    In October, the state changed the city’s drinking water source back from the polluted Flint River to the Detroit water system, but warned that the water is still not safe.

    The effects of lead-poisoning cannot be reversed. Researchers at nearby Hurley Children’s Hospital have identified a "rise in blood lead levels of children less than 5 years old" who live in the area. An outbreak of Legionnaires disease, which caused 10 deaths, is also suspected to have been a result of the toxic water.


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    Water Crisis, Food and Water Watch, Michigan Department of Community Health, Rick Snyder, Michigan, Flint
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