Beyond Flint, water for up to 6 million fails lead tests
Mike Henry Sr. holds his grandson Kaiden Olivares while a blood sample is drawn to test for lead at the Masonic Temple in downtown Flint, Mich., on Jan. 23, 2016. “I’m upset I had to do that to him,” said Henry Sr., who moved with his family outside of the city to Grand Blanc. “My grandson has had rashes. He’s been in the hospital. We have a concern now about the hospital’s water. My daughter has hair loss in the past that we’ve had no clue. We’re just trying to find out if maybe that’s it. Our whole family resides in Flint. We’ve ate in Flint. We’ve drank water in Flint. We’ve been in Flint restaurants so we have high concern.
Sandra Porter, the cook and water operator at Ozark Action Head Start in Ava, Mo. pours a gallon of bottled water into a bowl while she cooks for the school’s children. The Head Start has a well on its property, but the school doesn’t use it because samples from faucets have shown high lead levels.
Jaryn Wilson, 16, practices basketball in front of an old home in Auburn, Maine. The city was flagged in 2015 for elevated lead levels in the drinking water.
Volunteers load cases of free water into waiting vehicles at a water distribution center in Flint, Mich., on March 5, 2016. Flint changed its water source in April 2014 from treated water sourced from Lake Huron as well as the Detroit River to the Flint River, but city officials allegedly failed to treat with corrosion control. The failure had a series of problems that culminated with lead contamination from aging pipes.
Director of Safety Rick Donnelly with B.J. Baldwin Electric Inc. in Narvon, Pa., shows the latest test results warning of high levels of lead and radium in the water.
A pedestrian crosses the street in downtown Lancaster, Pa. Across Lancaster County,17 water systemshave found high lead levels indrinking water27 timesbetween 2012 and 2015, according toEPAdata.
Covenant Heights Camp and Retreat Center is near Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. This camp has renovated pipes in this staff cabin after the discovery of higher than normal lead content in the drinking water supply.
Paul Bryant stands in the doorway of his old town Firestone home. Bryant, who has been slowly renovating the home since he bought it five years ago, says he’s used only plastic pipes in the 96-year-old house, but isn’t sure what kind of line connects the house to the town’s water supply. He says he drinks mostly bottled water anyway, and doesn’t worry about possible lead in the water. “My grandmother used to bathe in radon and she lived to be 100,” he said with a laugh.
Willie Williams, plant operator for the water authority, blames homeowners for not replacing old plumbing.
Water samples taken in August and again in January at Caroline Elementary School in the Ithaca City School District came back with high lead results.
Sardis Lake, is the source of water for the Sardis Lake Water Authority in Oklahoma. “The water that we have coming out of the lake does not have lead in it,” said Willie Williams, plant operator for the Sardis Lake Water Authority. They have some houses in their system that have bad plumbing.
Lee Anne Walters of Flint, Mich., pours gallons of bottled water into a bucket and pan to warm up for her twin sons to take a weekly bath. Her son, Gavin, 4, looking on, has been diagnosed with lead poisoning. “I was hysterical,” said Walters said. “I cried when they gave me my first lead report because the thought was ‘Oh my God, my kids.’ I’m one of those mom’s that I watch what my kids eat. I make sure they get enough fruits and vegetables. All of my kids are avid water drinkers.”
Nicole Rich helps her children Jamison Rich, 7, left and Jersey, 9, do their homework in Ithaca, N.Y. The two siblings attend Caroline Elementary School in the Ithaca City School District where water samples came back with high lead results when tested last August and January. On Feb. 24, 2016, the Ithaca City School District released data from 2005 showing that drinking water throughout the school district could have exceeded EPA limits for lead during the past 11 years. Jamison Rich tested positive for lead.
Nancy Beliveau, a resident of a more than 100-year old home in Auburn, Maine, shows the plumbing in her basement. Beliveau said she received an elevated lead notice in the mail but ignored it because she was under the impression it didn’t affect her street.
Melissa Hoffman expresses concerns at a public meeting in Ithaca, N.Y., about high lead levels found at her children’s school, Caroline Elementary School.
Melissa Hoffman and her daughters, Sareanda Baker, 6, right and Asyra Baker, 10, at the Foundation of Light center in Dryden, N.Y. The two girls attend Caroline Elementary School in the Ithaca City School District where water samples show high lead levels.
“I wonder how it’s affected my kids,” said Lindsey Cox of Greentown, Ind., who has 3- and 10-year-old daughters. The family stopped using tap water for everything except showers and toilets after the town-operated utility discovered high-lead levels last year. Cox, the night manager at Heartland Market, has switched to using bottled water.
Lake Auburn is the water source in Aururn Maine and is so clean it doesn’t require a filtration system, a claim few Maine water sources can make. “The lead problem comes from the delivery system. We can’t control the plumbing in people’s homes,” says Sid Hazelton, the superintendent for the water district.
Kysten Gabri keeps her bottled water near as she shapes peanut butter protein balls in Auburn, Maine, where water samples from faucets have shown elevated levels of lead.
Christi Woodruff moved her trailer in June to Maple Ridge outside of Corinna, Maine. The property manager left a notice on her door about the lead contamination. Woodruff says when she made plans to get her water tested, her landlord said it was unnecessary. “The manager said not to worry because it was only certain trailers. He didn’t think my trailer was one of them,” she said.
Rows of water jugs are stacked at B.J. Baldwin Electric in Narvon, Pa. Jugs of water are placed throughout the business for employees who can’t drink the tap water because of various contaminants.
B.J. Baldwin Electric employees are told on their first day of work to not drink the water.
Pedestrians cross the street in Lancaster, Pa., which has taken a proactive approach to removing most of their lead pipes in their system.