Published Feb 3, 2016 at 3:44 PM | Updated at 3:53 PM EST on Feb 3, 2016
The city of Flint, Michigan, is under a federal emergency declaration after it was discovered that residents were being delivered lead-contaminated water for over a year. The city had switched from Detroit's water system to untreated water from the Flint River in April 2014 as a money-saving measure. The decision was made by an emergency manager appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder when the cash-strapped city was placed under state control.
The corrosive Flint River water was not properly treated and led to metal leaching from the city's old pipes, contaminating drinking water for the nearly 100,000 residents of Flint. The FBI is one of several federal agencies investigating the water quality, though it is unclear if civil or criminal charges will be pursued. The National Guard and Red Cross have been distributing bottled water to residents in the wake of the crisis, and lead screenings have been held to test children's blood – the neurotoxin has been linked to behavioral issues, learning disabilities and lower IQs.
Many residents in Flint say their complaints about lead-tainted water were downplayed or ignored, and they question whether that would have happened to a wealthier, whiter community. Flint is 57 percent black and 42 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty. The city’s mayor is calling for the immediate removal of lead pipes from homes with pregnant women or young children.