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lead contamination


President Barack Obama has pledged his support to the city of Flint in Michigan in the water contamination crisis.

Speaking from nearby Detroit, Barack Obama said: “If I were a parent up there, I would be beside myself that my kid’s health could be at risk.”

Flint’s water became contaminated when lead leached from old pipes after a change in supplier in 2014.

Since then, residents have complained of bad smells, headaches and rashes.

Unable to drink tap water, the National Guard has joined volunteers in distributing lead tests, filters and bottled water.

Photo Flintwaterstudy.org

Photo Flintwaterstudy.org

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has faced calls to resign over the way he has handled the crisis.

On January 20 Rick Snyder released a batch of emails from 2014 and 2015 concerning the issue.

One email suggests that a day after doctors reported high levels of lead in local children, one of the governor’s top advisers told him city officials, not state officials, had to “deal with it”.

The switch to a river water source was a money-saving move when the city was under state financial management.

The water from Flint River stripped lead from the pipes and into the supply.

Lead exposure can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems in children.

Last week, President Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint, which is predominantly an African-American, working-class city.

That declaration brought $5 million in federal aid but was far short of the $31 million requested by Republican governor Rick Snyder.

A day after meeting Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, Barack Obama said: “I told her we are going to have her back and all the people of Flint’s back as they work their way through this terrible tragedy.

“It is a reminder that we can’t short-change the basic services we provide to our people.”

Gov. Rick Snyder has urged President Obama to class the crisis as a federal disaster, saying its severity poses an “imminent and long-term threat” to residents.

By classing it as such, on the same level as natural disasters, Flint would be able to get much more federal aid.

In an interview this week, Gov. Snyder admitted it was a disaster but denied it was his “Katrina moment” – a reference to the much-criticized response of President George W. Bush to the hurricane that devastated New Orleans in 2005.


President Barack Obama has signed an emergency declaration for the city of Flint, Michigan, where the water has become contaminated with lead.

Flint’s water became contaminated after a change in supplier in 2014. Corrosive water leached lead from old pipes into the water supply.

The emergency declaration will unlock $5 million in federal funding.

Earlier in the week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder had requested $31 million from the federal government.

Rick Snyder said the need in the city of almost 100,000 people “far exceeds the state’s capability” and sought a disaster declaration.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

However, reports in Michigan said Barack Obama denied that request that would have freed up more than the $5 million, as such declarations are only made for natural disasters.

In October, testing revealed increased lead levels in water supplies and in children’s blood. Lead exposure can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems in children.

Before then, residents had complained of discolored water, bad smells and headaches and rashes from using the water from the city’s new supplier.

Flint switched its water source from the city of Detroit to the Flint River in 2014. It has since switched back to Detroit’s water.

Michigan’s attorney general has said he will investigate the water crisis to see whether any state laws were violated.

The lack of clean water in Flint “is a human tragedy in which families are struggling even with the most basic parts of daily life”, said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Rick Snyder has already declared an emergency in Flint due to the water situation. Local officials deemed it a public health emergency in October.

He has been criticized for his handling of the water crisis, with protesters calling for him to resign.

As a result of Barack Obama’s announcement, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will co-ordinate the response in Flint.

On January 16, Cher said she would donate bottled water to Flint residents, with some 180,000 bottles to be shipped.

“This is a tragedy of staggering proportion and shocking that it’s happening in the middle of our country,” the singer said.