To add injury to injury, there's now some evidence, albeit circumstantial evidence, that the water that the citizens of Flint, Michigan, have been drinking was even more contaminated than even previously thought. The story of high levels of lead being found in the drinking water in Flint is, by now, a ubiquitous national headline, but the poor people of Flint may have been drinking even more than lead. Sharon Lerner from The Intercept reports that a May 2015 report from the Michigan Department of Community Health "showed elevated levels of PFCs [perfluorinated compounds] in the Flint River—including PFOA, also known as C8, the chemical that spread into drinking water around a DuPont plant in West Virginia and led to a landmark class-action lawsuit. In addition to C8 and PFOS, ... scientists found 11 other PFCs in the Flint River—more than in any of the other water sources tested around the state." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Studies of laboratory animals given large amounts of PFCs have found that some PFCs may affect growth and development, reproduction, and injure the liver."

The evidence in the report is circumstantial because the "report was based on tests of surface water and fish for PFCs in 13 sites around the state. According to Jennifer Eisner, a public information officer for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the report was not designed to evaluate drinking water." So it was in the river, and thus likely in the drinking water as well, since at this point we know how little water treatment and testing was being done at the time, but we will probably never be certain. Officials in Flint didn't return Lerner's calls.

Read Lerner's full story at The Intercept.

Read more >