Flint, Michigan, has faced more than its fair share of woes in recent years, from high unemployment rates and population loss due in large part to downsizing by its chief employer, General Motors, to crime rates that consistently place Flint on many "most dangerous cities" lists. Now, even the youngest Flint residents are facing a crisis. According to recent statistics, at least 20 percent of public school students in Flint are eligible for special education status. Health officials believe there is a direct connection between the increased number of special needs children and the dangerous levels of lead discovered in the city's water supply in 2014. The problem is compounded by financial troubles. School districts are understaffed and underfunded, at least partly by the loss of a tax base, yet the federal government requires adequate services for children in special education. The percentage of special needs students in Flint has increased by 56% in the years since the water crisis, climbing from 13.1% for the 2012-13 school year to 20.5% percent of all students in 2018-19. While many families have been pulling up roots to get away from the danger, others are beset by poverty and looking to the city, state and federal government for help.
Lead and water contamination:
- The accumulation of lead in the human body can lead to nervous system issues, high blood pressure, anemia, developmental delays, and more.
- The lead content in U.S. water systems has been restricted since 1986, but older plumbing systems are not required to be replaced to meet those standards.
- Boiling water does not reduce lead content in water; in fact, cooler water typically has less lead than warm water.