March 03, 2017

A tall drink of water. Credit: Enid Martindale / Flickr Creative Commons

Weight loss. Exhaustion. Abdominal pain, seizures, and kids growing slowly. Back in 2001, entire neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., seemed like they were coming down with the same mysterious illness. That same illness cropped up, thirteen years later, in Flint, Michigan. 

Marc Edwards,a professor from Virginia Tech and a 2007 MacArthur Genius Fellow, has spent much of his career fighting lead poisoning -- first in D.C., then in Flint. And he says that those cities are just the beginning.

Three Takeaways:

  • D.C. was “30 times worse than Michigan,” says Edwards. While the Flint crisis is terrible, it lasted 18 months. In D.C., tens of thousands of kids were exposed to lead poisoning over the course of several years. But both groups will be dealing with life-long complications.
  • Lead in pipes is very common, says Edwards, who estimates that 13 million homes use lead piping for their water. Most of those homes are in poor neighborhoods, urban and rural.
  • It’s two years after the Flint crisis, and some city residents still won’t use tap water, no matter what they’re told. Edwards says that the city officials’ deception was widespread enough that most residents aren’t willing to start trusting the government now. “It’s impossible to tell which systems are trustworthy and which systems are not,” says Edwards.

More Reading:

Flint, water, Sci and Tech, Kara Miller, Marc Edwards

Previous Post

Why Scheduling Your Free Time Might Ruin It

Next Post

Full Show: The (Mis)Education of America

comments powered by Disqus