The Genesee County Medical Society is updating our recommendations on the use of Flint Municipal water. While filters DO remove lead, solving one problem, they also remove chlorine, a chemical that is normally added to kill germs in drinking water.
Data supports decreasing lead levels in Flint municipal water. When levels were high in the tested samples, filters which were properly maintained did not allow lead levels above the EPA “action level” of 15 ppb. This is the lead level for which a formal response is triggered if more than 10% of homes are measured at or above this number, although all acknowledge that no level of lead is considered “safe”.
It is important to have the water tested to make sure that no lead sediment was dislodged in the pipes leading to a residence. This will remain a concern as we move into warmer weather with its increase in street construction projects, which may disturb the pipes. Bare metal in the pipes or stray metal flakes (lead and other metals), could unexpectedly cause higher levels in water than previously measured in an individual home.
Further, in order for filtered Flint municipal water to be safe, the filter system must be used correctly at all times, with the filter changed as instructed and never left beyond its recommended date of use. The aerators must be flushed according to instructions on a regular basis, as there is the risk of lead particles dislodging from inside the pipes and being caught in the aerators.
It is also very important that consumers of Flint municipal water understand that the filters for lead do not filter out legionella or other microorganisms. Those who are at high risk for legionella and other infections that take advantage of weakened or immature immune systems, including those with the following risk factors, are recommended to continue using only bottled water, which is labeled “purified” (using a “reverse osmosis” process), for drinking, cooking and tooth-brushing:
Risk Factors for Legionella and other Infectious illnesses for Individual Adults and Children (check with your physician if you are uncertain if these apply to you or your family):
IN SUMMARY, THE GENESEE COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY IS MAKING THE FOLLOWING RECOMMENDATIONS:
For questions or comments, you may contact Peter Levine at [email protected].