“Pursue truth before everything else.” These were the parting words of Dr. Siddhartha ‘Sid’ Roy, who spoke to the AP Environmental students via Skype this Thursday about how citizen (investigative) scientists pioneered the change necessary to bring potable water to their towns.
Potable water is used for consumption. Until 1986 water was transported to our homes through lead pipes – then we discovered the dangers of lead consumption. Lead is known as the ‘silent killer,’ as it’s clear in liquid and has no odor. Despite the ban, many cities are still operating on outdated infrastructure and may continue to as long as they have acceptable lead levels (less than 15 parts per billion).
So where is the lead? In 2000, Washington DC switched the disinfectant at their water treatment plants from chlorine to chloramine. In doing so, the pipes transporting the water began to corrode. Birth rates began to decrease in DC as lead ingestion rose to beyond safe levels. It took four years (and the uncovering of many falsified papers) before a solution was reached.
The same issue occurred in Flint, Michigan. Originally, the city was purchasing its water from two outside sources (one being Lake Huron), prior to switching to the Flint River. When the switch occurred, no corrosion control measures were put in place and huge amounts of lead were released into the drinking water. After much sampling, protesting, and reporting, President Obama declared a federal emergency for Flint in 2016 and the city switched the water supply back to Lake Huron. Citizen scientists saved the day again! So why is Flint still in a water crisis?
It’s not. According to Dr. Roy, Flint, Michigan has some of the safest drinking water around. It’s us who are in the dark ages. Since 2016, Michigan has waged a war on lead, holding their water quality to stricter standards and more frequent sampling. So why are we still trying to save Flint?
“You can’t just put on the advocacy hat,” Dr. Roy states. “You actually have to be an expert.”
Flint’s source of water is currently one of the largest sources of fake news in the media.
This is a good lesson for us all. Before you advocate ( share, click, like ), always verify what you are sharing is true.Keep your emotions in check. For this reason, our research library has made this the first move in Michael Caulfield’s “Four Move” method for information evaluation.
Want to take the charge? Cities like Newark, NJ and Chicago, IL are currently facing lead issues.
Want to read more? Check out http://bit.do/flintpaper