Lead Levels in Flint’s Water Declining, Finds Court-Ordered Independent Scientist

Residents Should Continue to Use Filters, Test Water As Lead Pipes Are Replaced

Results from the first round of independent tap-water testing for lead in Flint under a court-ordered settlement show lead levels are declining and the city’s water pipes are improving.

In a sample of 92 homes in Flint, Dr. Susan Masten of Michigan State University, found that the 90th percentile lead value of samples was 4 parts per billion (ppb). The federal lead action level is 15 ppb. Lead levels in some Flint homes had reached thousands of parts per billion when sampled in 2015. (See report here: https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/independent-lead-testing-flint-period1-20180413.pdf)

“These results are promising,” said Dimple Chaudhary, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “We expect the system to further improve as the remainder of Flint’s lead pipes are removed over the next 18 months as required by our settlement. The use of faucet filters remains critical though, as pipe replacement work continues throughout the city,” said Chaudhary.   

Dr. Masten was required to test only for lead, not other contaminants, under the ground-breaking 2017 settlement secured by Concerned Pastors for Social Action, Melissa Mays, NRDC and the ACLU of Michigan in a federal court case brought under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The settlement requires the City of Flint and State of Michigan to provide $97 million to replace up to 18,000 water service lines in Flint by 2020.

Dr. Masten will conduct a second round of independent this spring. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up now (see this flyer for more information).

These results follow an announcement by Governor Snyder that the state will stop providing free bottled water to Flint residents. While not legally required to continue providing free bottled water by the settlement after certain lead levels were achieved, NRDC and ACLU believe that community’s demands for continued access to bottled water resources should not be ignored. (See April 6 press release.)

Free faucet filters, replacement cartridges, and water testing kits will remain available from until the water service line replacement in Flint is complete.  Filter installation and inspection are available by contacting CORE at 810-238-6700. Filter replacement cartridges and water testing kits are available for pick-up at Flint’s City Hall. 

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​

For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. The ACLU of Michigan was officially established in 1959 as part of that mission.