The Slatest

Flint, Michigan, Declares State of Emergency Over Amount of Lead in Drinking Water

Downtown Flint in a photo from 2009.

Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

The mayor of Flint, Michigan, has declared that the level of lead in the city’s drinking water constitutes a state of emergency, the Washington Post writes Tuesday. The city began using the Flint River as its water source in 2014, and a September study found that the rate of infants and children with elevated levels of lead in their blood has since nearly doubled*:

Screenshot/Flint Water Study

Mayor Karen Weaver says that the potential impact of lead poisoning on the physical and mental health of Flint children will require federal resources that can only be accessed by making the emergency declaration. (Lead has particularly damaging effects on children.) The city previously declared a “public health emergency” in October.

The city of Flint was for many decades a center of manufacturing operations for General Motors and related companies; a 2003 study called the automotive industry the “leading remaining source of lead pollution” in North America.

*Correction, Jan. 12, 2016: This post originally stated in error that a study found that the number of infants and children in Flint with above-average levels of lead in their blood had doubled. What the study found was the rate of children with “elevated levels” of lead in their blood as defined by Centers for Disease Control standards had doubled.