Flint is not the only city in Michigan where dangerously high levels of lead are to be found in children, according to new research.
In parts of Grand Rapids, Detroit, Jackson, Saginaw, Muskegon and Holland, a higher percentage of children are exposed to dangerous lead levels than in Flint, the Detroit News reported.
Overall, 5 percent of children in Flint recently tested positive for high levels of lead, with considerably higher percentages in certain areas. Tap water in Flint has high levels of lead, which has led to a recent scandal and various lawsuits.
In Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park, more than 10 percent of children in 10 zip codes tested positive for high lead levels, equating to around 1,000 of 7,200 children tested.
On Detroit’s west side in the 48206 zip code, 20.8 percent of the children examined tested positive.
Sources of lead poisoning include water pipes and paint and construction material in old homes.
“This is still an issue. It’s not going away,” Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive at the state Department of Healthcare and Human Services, told the Detroit News.
The effects of lead poisoning in children are permanent and irreversible. They include cognitive problems which make it harder to learn and social difficulties.
A kindergarten teacher spoke about the impact lead poisoning had on one of her students.
“She had cognitive problems. She had trouble processing things,” Kieya Morrison told the Detroit News. “She could not retain any of the information.”
News of how widespread the problem is came as Flint residents, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a suit in federal court to compel the city to replace all remaining lead water pipes.
“In a failed attempt to save a few bucks, state-appointed officials poisoned the drinking water of an important American city, causing permanent damage to an entire generation of its children,” Michael Steinberg, legal director of Michigan ACLU said in a statement, according to Time. “The people of Flint cannot trust the state of Michigan to fix this man-made disaster and that is why court oversight is critically needed.”
The sharp increase in lead poisoning in Flint resulted from the decision to switch the city’s water supply to the Flint River. The severely corrosive water damaged the city’s lead pipes, releasing the metal into the water supply.
The suit claims the Safe Drinking Water Act was violated by local and state officials.