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Flint Water Crisis Is Bigger Than a Hashtag

Flint Water Crisis Is Bigger Than a Hashtag

Eric Woodyard

Tiny red rashes and bumps began to pop up on my nephew Nasir's face, stomach, legs and arms surprisingly last winter.

He hadn't turned a year old yet, so my mother and sister repeatedly searched for answers.

They scheduled numerous appointments to local doctors and dermatologists -- who prescribed different creams and medicines -- but nothing seemed to work.

That was until they stopped using the Flint water on his little body completely.

Then voila! The hives disappeared.

It’s not necessary to drink lead contaminated water to come down with lead poisoning.

I had an uncle who had always had a full head of gray/white hair for as long as I can remember knowing him. My hair began graying when I was about 25 years old. Thinking I’d try to do something about that, I bought a bottle of Grecian Formula and used it as a hair tonic for about a month.

I don’t remember if it actually darkened the hair that had lost its pigment. I did notice when the gums in my mouth began turning white. That’s when I read the list of ingredients on the Grecian Formula bottle. The list included something like “lead acetate” (forget exactly what it was; some chemically derived lead-based compound.)

I tossed the Grecian Formula away. My gums returned to normal. I decided to let my hair do whatever it damn well pleased.

Because a high volume of blood gets pumped through the brain, the human scalp is densely packed with blood vessels. Anyone who has seen even a minor scalp wound understands. With the hair tonic, the lead compound was leeching into my blood stream through my scalp with all those blood vessels.

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The poor communities on the south and east shores of Lake Okeechobee, Florida endured times when the water provided to their homes was so bad (due to polluted surface water treated by chlorine/chloroamines and the associated disinfection byproducts) that not only were they instructed not to drink the water, but pregnant women, in particular, were instructed not to shower in the water, due to the off-gassing of the pollutants. We are all created equal, but better hurry up to grab what’s “your’s”. Jefferson v. (Ayn) Rand. Welcome to 'murca.

Yeah, lead acetate, is a sweet-tasting substance - the traditional way it was produced in ancient Greek and Roman times was to store wine in lead containers. The lead acetate that was produced improved the flavor of the wine and some Greek also discovered that it helped darken graying hair. Of course, they knew nothing about the toxic aspects of lead in those days. The Roman plumbing was all-lead pipes too.

There have even been theories that all that wine they drank from in lead containers and lead pipes helped speed the decline of the Roman Empire.

Anywhere else in the world, such an outrage such as Flint would have led to mass resignations and a complete change in the governing body involved. The idea that Gov. Snider and dozens of others have not resigned yet is an outrage. But where, outside of the (largely black) people of Flint, are all the outraged people? Why isn’t the Governor’s home in Lansing, if not the State Capitol, completely surrounded with angry people? Why? Because the great majority of Michiganders are white racists and don’t give a flying fuck.


Any sane government would have repalced those lead pipes decades ago. It is that simple. There is nothing new to learn about the solubuility of lead in water.

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Wouldn’t you be surprised to learn that the community in which you live has failed to replace the lead water pipes located there.

Mr. Woodyard, I agree with you that the water crisis is bigger than a hashtag, but what is it you are suggesting? You state that people should “push for real change” but offer no suggestions on how that would, or could, be accomplished by those who live half a country away.

The Flint water crisis is bigger than a hashtag. Unfortunately too many of the American citizenry lack the attention span to attend to much more than a bumper-sticker (dating my self there!) slogan. Ergo, the popularity of Twitter, “trending”, and the use of catchy hash tags to attract attention.

It is not lead pipes but lead-soldered copper pipes which includes the pipes in every house in the US built before 1988. Lead was also used to seal the bell-and-spigot joints in old cast iron water mains - but this practice was discontinued pretty far back.

Considering that outside of gentrifying and neoliberal yuppifying London, pretty much all of the UK resembles the depopulating US Rust Belt, I’d say virtually every house and city and town in the UK has lead in its pipes too.

While zero is ideal, lead in water can be reduced to a few ppm with proper pH and hardness control of the water supply.

I’ve got lead-soldered plumbing in my house and it simply is not practical to tear it all out and replace it. Any plumbing repairs I do to the house are done with tin solder.

Thanks for the info. I suspected as much, but had nothing firm to go on and haven’t had time to do the research on my own.
Question: Have the pipes in Michigan been damaged permanently, in our estimation? Or will the pipes in their present condition cease contaminating the water supplied to homes and businesses once properly treated water is introduced into the system?