(CNN) — Mistrust in the government is nothing new for the residents of Flint, Michigan.
In 2014, the state’s public officials assured the residents that their water was safe to drink. It wasn’t. Now, with the coronavirus vaccine rolling out across the country, some Flint residents are wondering whether or not it’s safe to take. Hesitancy is particularly high in some Black communities, which have a history of being discriminated against in the US health care system (and beyond).
Omar Jimenez traveled to Flint to talk to residents about how the water crisis has impacted their views on the coronavirus vaccine.
CNN’s Go There team asked readers to submit questions about what it was like reporting in Flint: How are the residents coping and why does their skepticism persist? And what’s in store as the vaccine rollout continues?
Can Flint residents drink safely from the tap yet? What is the residual impact on children and the younger generation?
In short, yes by federal standards. Does everyone do it? No. In 2018, then Gov. Rick Synder said there was no more need to stick to bottled water after years of steady decreases of the lead and copper level from above 15 parts per billion in 2016 (a federal threshold that requires action) to below 5 parts per billion by early 2018.
In 2019, the city of Flint released a water quality report showing that 90% of high-risk samples collected were at three parts per billion, well below the federal requirement. The likely source there, according to the report, is “corrosion of household plumbing erosion of natural deposits.”
“Drinking water faucets manufactured before 2014 were allowed to contain up to 8 percent lead. This lead can sometimes find its way into our drinking water,” according to the state of Michigan. So filters continue to be very popular.
While the water is safe by federal standards, the small amount of lead is still lead and is part of why so many people still choose not to drink right from the tap, including many children who have grown up since 2014 with this practice feeling commonplace. But more immediately, the American Journal of Public Health found that after the city made the decision to switch its water source to the Flint River at the start of the crisis, “The percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels increased after water source change, particularly in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Water is a growing source of childhood lead exposure because of aging infrastructure.”
The city currently gets its water from Lake Huron.
According to the CDC, effects from lead exposure include: slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, hearing and speech problems, and damage to the brain and nervous systems.
Bottom line, if kids are not…