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Flint, Michigan Water Quality Report

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Sources Of Drinking Water in Flint, Michigan 

Where does Flint get its water from?  Flint's source water comes from the lower Lake Huron watershed. The watershed includes numerous short, seasonal streams that drain to Lake Huron. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, in partnership with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and several other governmental agencies, performed a Source Water Assessment (SWA) in 2004 to determine the susceptibility or relative potential of contamination. The susceptibility rating is on a seven-tiered scale ranging from “very low” to “very high” based primarily on geologic sensitivity, water chemistry, and contamination sources. The Lake Huron source water intake is categorized as having a moderately low susceptibility to potential contaminant sources. The Lake Huron water treatment plant has historically provided satisfactory treatment of this source water to meet drinking water standards. Does Flint add fluoride to their water? Yes, fluoride (A known neurotoxin) is also added to the water to prevent tooth decay. Is Flint's water safe to drink?

Source: City of Flint, MI

Contaminants Found in Flint's Water Supply

(Detected above health guidelines)

Chromium (hexavalent)

The movie Erin Brockovich alerted the public to the great suffering the little town of Hinkley, California experienced due to hexavalent chromium in their drinking water. Today, Hinkley is little more than a ghost town thanks to continued water contamination, health concerns, and plummeting property values. Chromium (hexavalent) is a carcinogen that commonly contaminates American drinking water. Chromium (hexavalent) in drinking water may be due to industrial pollution or natural occurrences in mineral deposits and groundwater. 

Radiological contaminants  

Radiological contamination of water is due to the presence of radionuclides, which are defined as atoms with unstable nuclei. In an effort to become more stable, a radionuclide emits energy in the form of rays or high-speed particles. This is called ionizing radiation because it displaces electrons, which creates ions. The three major types of ionizing radiation are alpha particles, beta particles and gamma rays. Radiological contaminants leach into water from certain minerals and from mining. This utility detected Radium, combined (-226 & -228).

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

Trihalomethanes are a group of four chemicals—chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform—formed, along with other disinfection by-products, when chlorine or other disinfectants used to control microbial contaminants in drinking water react with naturally occurring organic and inorganic matter in water. Trihalomethanes are cancer-causing contaminants.

Fluoride

Fluoride occurs naturally in surface and groundwater and is also added to drinking water by many water systems. The fluoride that is added to water is not the naturally occurring kind, the main chemicals used to fluoridate drinking water are known as “silicofluorides” (i.e., hydrofluorosilicic acid and sodium fluorosilicate). Silicofluorides are not pharmaceutical-grade fluoride products; they are unprocessed industrial by-products of the phosphate fertilizer industry (Gross!). Since these silicofluorides undergo no purification procedures, they can contain elevated levels of arsenic — moreso than any other water treatment chemical. In addition, recent research suggests that the addition of silicofluorides to water is a risk factor for elevated lead exposure, particularly among residents who live in homes with old pipes.

Potential Health Effects of Consuming These Contaminants

Health risks of Chromium (hexavalent) above health recommendations 

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.02 ppb for chromium (hexavalent) was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a public health goal, the level of a drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

Health risks of Radiological contaminants above health recommendations

Birth defects:  Depending on the stage of fetal development drinking water contamination with radioactive substances increases the risk of cancer and may harm fetal development.

Health risks of Fluoride above health recommendations

Unknown:  A growing body of evidence reasonably indicates that fluoridated water, in addition to other sources of daily fluoride exposure, can cause or contribute to a range of serious effects, including arthritis, damage to the developing brain, reduced thyroidfunction, and possibly osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in adolescent males.

Health risks of Trihalomethanes above health recommendations 

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.8 ppb for trihalomethanes was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a draft public health goal, the level of drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

Contaminant Levels in Sterling Heights, MI Compared to Other Regions

Chromium (hexavalent)

 - Health Guideline: 0.02 ppb

 - Flint, MI: 0.236 ppb

 - National: 0.782 ppb

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

 - Health Guideline: 0.8 ppb

 - National: 23.4 ppb

 - Flint, MI: 105.0 ppb 

Radiological contaminants  

No information available about this contaminant but it cannot be good. This utility detected Radium, combined (-226 & -228). Radiological contaminants leach into water from certain minerals and from mining. Drinking water contamination with radioactive substances increases the risk of cancer and may harm fetal development.

Fluoride

 - Legal Limit: 4 ppb

 - National: 0.440 ppb

 - Flint, MI: 0.870 ppb

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April Jones

A Colorado based hiker, blogger, and water quality expert...

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