Hundreds of thousands of residents in Flint, Michigan, feared the news: The water they were drinking was tainted with lead. Now, local officials in other towns are checking the pipes that deliver their residents` drinking water, and some cities are finding out they might have the same problem.
Southeast of Cleveland, residents in Sebring, Ohio, say they no longer trust the water they`re drinking because it travels through lead pipes to get to their homes. The town of about 8,100 near Youngstown has closed schools, handed out bottled water and demanded answers from local officials, according to the Associated Press.
"How long has this been going on and how much did we drink it?" resident Nina McIlvain asked the AP. "I`m sure there`s more to it than we know."
As many as 10 million homes and businesses, mostly in the Midwest and Northeast, are connected to lead pipes that deliver their drinking water, the Environmental Protection Agency told the Huffington Post. With the Flint disaster fresh on everyone`s minds, many residents are pleading with their local officials to remove the old pipes and replace them with a safer alternative.
This process will be costly, of course. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, removal of all lead pipes would cost Milwaukee at least $511 million. This is an expense the city and its residents would have to split, but it`s the cost of keeping potentially thousands of children from being exposed to lead and its harmful impacts. The CDC reports lead exposure can severely stunt a child`s growth, leading to cognitive problems, among other issues.
Closer to Flint, several towns in Michigan are also weighing the consequences of keeping lead pipes in use. MLive.com said six private water supplies and two municipalities across the state, aside from Flint, recently tested water that has lead and copper levels above the federal limit. This has led some experts to believe Flint is just the beginning of what could soon become a very serious problem statewide.
"I think Flint is the tip of the iceberg," Yanna Lambrinidou, an assistant science and technology studies professor at Virginia Tech