lead in the blood of Flint’s children

The crisis in Flint started in 2014 when Gov. Rick Snyder’s hand-picked and unelected city manager decided to save money by switching Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Problems with the water were immediately apparent but state officials did not take residents’ complaints seriously until testing last fall showed elevated levels of lead in the blood of Flint’s children.

Gov. Snyder has finally, after 20 months, declared a state of emergency and is scrambling to do damage control and deflect blame.2 President Obama declared a federal emergency in Flint as well. But as chief executive of the state of Michigan, with an aggressive agenda of cost-cutting and austerity practices, responsibility ultimately rests with Gov. Snyder.

The Justice Department has said they will join the EPA in investigating the contamination of Flint’s water.3 We need to make sure there is a transparent and fair investigation that reaches all the way to Gov. Snyder, and holds him accountable for his role in creating and perpetuating this crisis.

Tell the Justice Department: Deliver justice for Flint, Michigan. Click here to sign the petition.

Before the water source switch, anti-corrosives were added to the Lake Huron water to help protect aging pipes. But when the switch was made, officials did not add anti-corrosives to the Flint River water. It would have cost $100 a day to do so. The change in water quality was immediately apparent:

Residents rapidly voiced complaints about the smell, taste and rusty appearance of the water. They also raised health concerns including rashes, hair loss and mood changes. Even General Motors stopped using the Flint water, “saying it was rusting its parts.”4

The high levels of salt in the Flint River were leaching lead out of Flint’s aging pipes. In the face of an E. coli advisory, chlorine was added to the water, which only increased the corrosion. When the chlorine failed to fix the bacteria problem, residents were urged to boil their drinking water. But boiling increases concentrations of lead, leading to higher exposures.5

Repeated complaints were ignored. As of February 2015, officials were still telling the people of Flint that their water was safe.6 More than six months before Snyder declared a state of emergency, one of his top aides warned that the state wasn’t taking resident complaints seriously enough.7 There are reports that state officials knew last year that the water was poisoned, but didn’t say a word.8

We need to demand immediate steps to fix Flint’s public health crisis. But sadly, Flint is not alone in dealing with crumbling infrastructure and right-wing leaders who enact slash-and-burn budget policies. If we don’t demand justice for Flint, we’ll be seeing the same story emerge in cities across America.

Tell the Justice Department: Deliver justice for Flint, Michigan. Click the link below to sign the petition:


Thank you for speaking out,

Heidi Hess, Senior Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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  1. Mitch Smith, “Flint Wants Safe Water, and Someone to Answer for Its Crisis,” New York Times, January 9, 2016.
  2. David Graham, “What Did the Governor Know About Flint’s Water, and When Did He Know It?” The Atlantic, January 9, 2016.
  3. Arthur Delaney, “Justice Department Investigating Toxic Tap Water In Flint,” Huffington Post, January 5, 2016.
  4. Judy Stone, “What You Need To Know About Lead Poisoning – Flint Edition,” Forbes, January 9, 2016.
  5. Ibid.
  6. David Graham, “What Did the Governor Know About Flint’s Water, and When Did He Know It?” The Atlantic, January 9, 2016.
  7. Stephanie Gosk et. al., “Internal Email: Michigan ‘Blowing Off’ Flint Over Lead in Water,” NBC News, January 6, 2016.
  8. Ben Mathis-Lilley, “Michigan Knew Last Year That Flint’s Water Might Be Poisoned But Decided Not to Tell Anyone,” Slate.com, January 11, 2016.