LANSING – The Michigan Legislative Black Caucus (MLBC) today urged Gov. Rick Snyder to issue a State of Emergency for the city of Flint for health concerns dealing with increased lead levels in municipal water.
The MLBC action comes on the heels of similar warnings issued recently by both the city of Flint and Genesee County. Both the city and county have reacted to recent reports and studies that have indicated the presence of coliform bacteria, which suggests the presence of other disease-carrying pathogens. Blood samples of Genesee County children – taken before and after the city ended its contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) and began using Flint River water – shows that the number of Flint children with elevated blood-lead levels has jumped from 2.1 percent to 4 percent. Additional tests have also disclosed that the blood-lead levels of children living in the poorest Flint neighborhoods have jumped from 2.5 percent to 6.3 percent.
It has been scientifically proven that even low lead levels can affect many different parts of the body. Lead can especially affect a child’s mental development, behavior, ability to pay attention, hearing, IQ, kidneys and body growth.
State Rep. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint), first vice chairman of the MLBC, is working with local, state and federal officials to find solutions and resources. A state-declared heath emergency will allow the city to access federal funding.
“Issuing a health emergency is the most responsible thing to do,” Neeley said. “This is a public health crisis, and our children are most at risk. We urge Gov. Snyder to issue the State of Emergency so the city of Flint can get immediate monetary relief.”
“Water is a basic human right,” state Rep. LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit) said. “Many of our urban communities have succumb to various water issues. We have a due diligence to work tirelessly to provide relief to our citizens.”