Seven more lead-poisoned families sue over tainted Flint water supply

  • Published on March 7th, 2016

By Meteor Blades

Seven families have filed another federal lawsuit over the Flint water crisis in which an unknown number of people have been poisoned by lead.

The lead leached from water pipes due to corrosive river water after the city switched its water source in 2014. Lawyers for the families seek to hold city and state officials responsible for the poisoning. They’ve filed the suit under the Safe Water and Lead-Free Water Acts.

Tracy Connor reports:

“Lead poisoning is an insidious disease,” said one of the attorneys, Hunter Shkolnik. “We know the brain is permanently and irreversibly damaged but it doesn’t manifest itself immediately. These children have been pushed so far down now they cannot ever achieve what was expected of them.

“What we’re trying to do here is get action and get action quick,” he added. “There are many more children in the community who need attention. It cannot wait any longer.”

One of the families is that of Melissa Lightfoot and her three children, including 5-year-old Payton. Before the city changed its water sources, all three children were tested for lead in their blood levels and came up clean. After the switch, they were tested again. That time the lead levels in their blood clocked in above five micrograms per deciliter.

Lead is a powerful neurotoxin and can cause extensive brain damage and other developmental problems in children. The government reduced its level of concern from 60 micrograms per deciliter in 1960 to 10 in 1991. But based on advice from the Centers for Disease Control, experts now use five micrograms as the reference level for determining that a child’s lead levels are too high, based on the average for all children. But no threshold level at which damage does not occur in children has been identified.

Lightfoot told NBC News: “I don’t know how the rest of my kids’ lives are going to play out because of how high their lead levels are. Now I just want to get my kids out of Flint.”

Kamryn, Payton and Tra'Vaughn Lightfoot. Poisoned by lead.
The Lighfoot children

Another Melissa is involved in a different lawsuit in the matter—Melissa Mays. Flint resident Mays, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Michigan, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. filed their suit in the U.S. District Court in January. The lawsuit alleges that the state of Michigan and city of Flint violated federal laws relating to water contamination and providing safe drinking water.

Mays, a 37-year-old mother of three, formed the grassroots group Water You Fighting For? in January. In an interview with The Stir last month, she said:

It was about July 2014, after the switch [from the Detroit system to a new consortium, using water from the Flint River in the interim]. Our water started coming through yellow. The kids would come and find me, running and screaming: “Mom, the water is yellow!” Sometimes it smelled like rotten eggs, sometimes dirt. Sometimes bleach. Depended on what day it was.

Then the cat started throwing up and losing fur. You’d pet him and his fur would come off in clumps right in your hand. He used to be bunny-soft, but now, his fur is rough and coarse. Same thing with my sons. Their hair went from being long and silky to rough and wiry. That’s caused by copper, which strips the collagen from your system. Copper, lead, chromium, aluminum, and tin, that’s what we have in our water. Around the fall of 2014, my hair started falling out, too.

Perhaps action would have been taken a lot sooner if the hair of high muckety-mucks at city hall and the governor’s mansion had fallen out.

(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)


About the Author

Meteor Blades is a writer and contributing editor at DailyKos. He believes there is something profoundly wrong with our system. - the unchecked accumulation of wealth and power into the hands of a very small group of corporate business interests has contributed to the wholesale corruption of our political system. For an understanding about the level of corruption in our country, he encourages you to view these two PBS documentaries: (1). ,The Untouchables; (2) The United States of ALEC.