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Report: Flint Water Caused Fetal Deaths And Infertility

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Flint, Michigan, has endured economic decline and the contamination of its water supply, as ongoing media coverage reports, but research now shows it also experienced a rise in fetal deaths and infertility due to lead poisoning.

Fertility rates decreased by 12 percent among Flint women and fetal death rates increased by 58 percent after April 2014 when the city switched its water supply to save money due to the ongoing economic decline that began in the late 1980s after the closure of the city's General Motors plant, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Through careful examination of statistics from Flint and the rest of Michigan, assistant professors and health economists David Slusky of Kansas University and Daniel Grossman of West Virginia University conducted their research. The researchers analyzed data collected from 2008 to 2015.

Grossman and Slusky note in their report that the decline in the fertility rate was caused by a “culling of the least healthy fetuses” resulting in a “horrifyingly large” increase in fetal deaths and miscarriages, reports The Washington Post.

Research estimates that among the babies conceived from November 2013 through March 2015, “between 198 and 276 more children would have been born had Flint not enacted the switch in water."

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According to a class-action lawsuit, Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality was not treating the Flint River water with an anti-corrosive agent, causing the river to be 19 times more corrosive than water from Detroit, according to a study conducted by Virginia Tech, as reported by CNN. That amount is a violation of the Safe Water Drinking Act passed by Congress in 1974.

Flint's city council suggested the water supply switch, and former Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon approved it for implementation on April 16, 2013. Dillon resigned on Oct. 11, 2013, according to MLive, one year before the residents of Flint began experiencing the symptoms of the ill-fated move. His decision was based on information emergency managers and water plant officials provided, and lead to criminal charges once the truth emerged three years later.

On Dec. 20, 2016, four officials -- two of Flint's former emergency managers and two water plant officials -- were charged with felonies of false pretenses and conspiracy for misleading the Michigan Department of Treasury into getting millions in bonds then mishandling the money to finance the construction of a new pipeline that caused the city's drinking water to be switched to the contaminated Flint River, reports CNN.

According to the EPA, the threshold for safe drinking water is 15 parts of lead per billion; however, the World Health Organization states that “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe,” reports The Washington Post.

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Sources: Detroit Free Press, The Washington Post, CNN, MLive / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Nathan and Jenny/Flickr, Lance Cheung/U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

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