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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Groesbeck: Horrendous Outcomes Grow In Flint, Michigan


Too many people have lived through terrible tragedies due to human rights abuses committed by government officials and other important public figures in charge.

In 2014, Flint, Michigan’s financial problems spawned a public-health crisis. In the city’s attempt to cut costs, the municipal government switched its water supplier from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to the Flint River water. The new water supply was, and is still, contaminated with high levels of lead. Lead is a highly toxic element that causes health problems ranging from heart disease to brain damage. Three – almost four – years later, the fertility rates have dropped and there is now a horrifyingly large increase in fetal deaths and miscarriages.

City residents complained about the color and smell of the new water immediately after the switch of water providers. The municipal government assured them there was no reason to worry about the drinking water. It wasn’t until a year later that the public became aware of the contamination and its effects.

The city switched back to the original water supply late in 2015, but the damage done to the pipes was irreversible. A few months after the switch, the new Flint Mayor, Karen Weaver, declared a state of emergency over the raised lead levels in the city water.

Destructive effects of the lead exposure on children’s health are insane. This includes cognitive deficiencies, increased antisocial behavior, lower educational attainment and more severe issues affecting the liver, kidneys and the brain.

Realizations of the dangerous water in the city has led to international outrage, protests from Flint residents, and the resignation of federal, state and local employees. It is now clear that employees at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality collected insufficient data and ignored the warning signs visible in what they did collect. In this time, the MDEQ allowed the people of Flint to be poisoned.

City officials and the government continuously lied to the people of Flint. They ignored imperative data. To combat E. Coli found in the water, they over-chlorinated the water causing additional detrimental effects for both adults and children. The city promised they were using corrosion control to prevent lead contact in the water, but this turned out to be a lie to calm the residents.

On another note, Governor Rick Snyder claims the catastrophes in the city’s public health had nothing to do with the fact that the residents of Flint are in poverty and the majority are black, but that did not convince the people who believe this crisis would not have happened in a wealthier, whiter city. I am certain it would have never been an issue in that case.

While the news covers disasters such as the opposition for “Take a Knee,” Puerto Rico without power and other problems produced from the Hurricanes, there are people who are fighting for their basic rights, and everyone else is not doing enough to protect them.

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