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COLUMN: Health issues in Flint begin to surface

As of early March, tests showed the lead levels in the water in Flint, Michigan, are still at dangerous levels in approximately 8 percent of Flint homes. The effects of using such contaminated water for months on end are now beginning to show.

In a report from CNN, several Flint citizens explained how the problem has had a personal effect on their lives. To say these stories are shocking is an understatement.

Nakiya Wakes said she believes the lead in the water caused her to miscarry her twins and is causing behavioral problems in her two living children.

She did not receive a government notice that said pregnant women should not drink the water until after she had already miscarried.

Another Flint resident, Crystle Davidson, told CNN she would rather “melt [the] snow off the ground and drink it” than drink her tap water. She developed rashes after drinking the water, and she continues to worry about how it will affect her son, who already has ADHD.

The worries of these Flint women are not unfounded. A study conducted in 2007 by the University of South Carolina showed high lead levels can cause aggressiveness and inattentiveness in children.

It’s also known by doctors and public health officials alike that lead poisoning can cause pregnancy complications, including miscarriage and irreversible nerve damage in infants and children.

These stories are not uncommon in Flint. If residents did not suffer health effects from the water crisis, they at least are distrustful of their government now.

The economic toll has yet to be assessed, but millions of dollars have already been spent attempting to help Flint residents recover.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill in late February that would credit Flint residents $30 million for part of their water bills during the time of contamination.

The federal government has sent $3.6 million to prepare for additional education costs that might be needed. These costs cover early childhood education expansion and transportation for families to get bottled water.

Because the crisis is not over, USA Today estimates the problem will cost the federal government approximately $300 billion as they rush to replace nationwide eroding infrastructure that caused the Flint 

As the city tries to recover from being poisoned by its neglectful government, states across the country with similar water systems are now testing their water for safety.

We can be thankful for this, but Flint residents still deserve better than cheaper 
water bills.

Years after it started, Flint still deserves a sincere apology. Flint still deserves justice.

If we truly want change so a situation like this never happens in the United States again, we cannot turn our backs while Flint residents try to mend their city and clean up a mess they didn’t cause.

Do not forget about Flint.

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