Flint, Michigan’s water crisis has sparked a national outrage. The contaminated water has high levels of lead and metals as well as pollutants. It has caused illness, an E.coli outbreak and concern for citizens of Flint and around the country. High levels of lead poisoning is known to impair cognitive function, shorten attention spans and create antisocial behavior. The World Health Organization says the “neurological and behavioral effects of lead are believed to be irreversible.” The National Resources Defense Council studied water systems throughout the US and found that 19 U.S. cities have water systems with significant pollution and deteriorating, out-of-date plumbing.

How did this happen to Flint? A depressed economic, cash-strapped city switched from Detroit’s municipal water system and began drawing from the Flint River in 2014 to save money. The water wasn’t properly treated to prevent lead from pipes from leaching into the supply. Residents have been urged to use bottled water and to put filters on faucets, including bath/shower faucets.

How do you know if you tap water is safe? Every city is required to publish reports about the safety and quality of its drinking water system. The problem is that some cities do a good job with their right-to-know reports, others publish information that is incomplete or misleading. Contacting your local water company and ask for reports on the quality and safety of the water is one way to find out. Another way is to contact the NRDC directly @ www.nrdc.org.

Here is a short video on Charleston’s Water: