Flint water showing lower lead levels

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

The latest round of testing results from Flint’s drinking water show improvement for the beleaguered city. State officials, however, still urge continued caution moving ahead.

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality released new results Tuesday from its sentinel sites scattered around the city — areas designated as hotspots for elevated lead levels. Those samples produced fewer results registering above the action level of lead contamination than testing conducted earlier this year.

This second round of testing showed 8.4 percent of samples were above the 15 parts per billion action level for lead. The first round showed 9.6 percent of samples over that threshold.

Results released earlier this month showed that 37 of 423 sites tested over 15 parts per billion, or 8.7 percent of locations.

“The constantly updated information helps determine the quality of the water as it comes into peoples’ homes,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a press release Tuesday.

“This information also helps to get immediate attention to homes with high lead or high copper results, so we can investigate issues further and work quickly with residents to address health concerns.”

Flint has been dealing with a host of public health issues since April 2014, when the city began drawing its water from the Flint River. A failure to treat that water with corrosion controls is believed to have led to lead contamination.

In the last six months, the scope of the city’s problem has become clearer with lead being identified in the blood work of city children and turning up regularly in the supply.

Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards helped identify the presence of lead in the city’s water in August. On Tuesday, he was one of four people to testify about the Flint water crisis during a congressional hearing.

“It’s our hypothesis that the lead (levels) are about four times better now as it was (last summer),” he said.

JLynch@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2034