Michigan residents warned to stop drinking poisoned water

One of Trump’s first executive orders after his very poorly attended inauguration was allowing coal companies to dump toxic waste into water sources. Shortly thereafter, the cretin directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replace the Clean Water act with a decade-old idea proffered by deceased Antonin Scalia based on his conservative opinion; not on “hydrology, biology, chemistry, or environmental concerns.”

Suffice it to say, with Republicans in charge of the government and a majority of the states, the concept of “Clean Water” is now almost exclusively the purview of special interests with no interest in protecting water for human consumption.

It should be no great shock, then, that two Michigan communities had such “dangerously high levels of industrial chemicals” in their drinking water that it prompted officials to issue an emergency alert warning citizens to stop using the water.  The residents of Parchment and Cooper Townships were warned late Thursday:

To immediately stop using their water for drinking, cooking, making baby formula and food, or rinsing fruits and vegetables … and cautioned that boiling it would not remove PFAS, nor would filters.” Officials also called on “residents using the City of Parchment’s water supply, which includes Cooper Township, to help spread this message to your neighbors.”

The two municipalities in Kalamazoo County began receiving bottled water Friday morning because:

High amounts of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, were detected by the [Michigan]  Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The state agency tests yielded 1,410 parts per trillion in the drinking water supply.”

The level of PFAS was a whopping 20 times higher than the “lifetime health advisory” according to the EPA, although a recent study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the EPA revealed “that the health advisory should be set far lower.

According to the Detroit News, the toxic water is so dangerous that the State Emergency Operations Center was activated putting police, the Department of Environmental Quality, Health and Human Services, and the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team on alert. At least in this latest toxic event, and unlike the disaster in Flint, Michigan officials are not denying the danger or waiting to provide clean water to the affected citizens; it is a midterm election year after all.

Gov. Rick Snyder (R) did not claim ignorance of the problem like he did during the still ongoing  Flint water system crisis. Snyder said in a statement that the health of residents would be prioritized in addition to ensuring their access to drinking water.

Our next step is to work as a team to address the source of this contamination and restore the municipal water system.”

House Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) represents the area and posted his reaction to the news of more poisoned water on Facebook. He said “he would be meeting with state and local officials to mount a response and called on the Trump administration to crack down on PFAS. [The} immediate need is to get to the bottom of this and ensure folks have safe drinking water in the meantime.”

City officials claimed they were not sure how the man-made chemicals entered the water sources, although they do know, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), that PFAS is found in non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil. PFAS is nothing to ignore as it can lead to severe health problems because it affects the human immune system leading to an increased risk of cancer and liver disease, “among other health hazards.”

This is not the only instance of PFAS contamination and it is not restricted to Michigan. Just this week New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued human consumption limits for fish found in a dozen bodies of water over PFAS concerns. Other states, including Alabama, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have either drawn up drafts or were proactive and actually finalized new limits on the amount of PFAS their citizens can safely ingest. In Pennsylvania, another state struggling to overcome “severe PFAS contamination,” lawmakers and community leaders are begging the EPA to issue new PFAS health standards; but they are not calling on anyone to  ban the dangerous toxin or severely punish industry caught releasing it into water sources.

With Trump’s special interest puppet running the EPA, it is highly unlikely there will be any real action to restrict the chemical’s release into Americans’ water sources. The Republicans in charge of the EPA and CDC, and even Trump,  may offer lip service during a midterm election year, but it is doubtful there will be any real action. Remember, Trump follows the Koch-Heritage-GOP script carefully and claims that the environmental and health regulations regarding industry poisoning drinking water are killing jobs –  it is the reason he has given with every new executive order eliminating different aspects of the Clean Water Act and rollback of environmental protections.

The only good news is that Michigan officials were actually running periodic tests on the affected water sources and alerted the public to stop using their water. It is not clear how long the PFAS levels have been 20 times higher than is considered safe over a lifetime, but at that rate it is difficult to imagine there will not be serious health ramifications in the future due to even limited exposure.

Since this issue is widespread and has been ongoing, it is likely all the attention now is due to the looming midterm elections. Based on the Republican support for Trump’s assault on the Clean Water Act and coupled with attacks on regulations restricting industry pouring toxic waste into water supplies, the sense of urgency by some Michigan officials seems insincere at best. Particularly when officials are asking the people impacted by poisoned water to do the job state and federal agencies exist to do; warn the people to stop using poisoned water.

Image: Danny Miller – AP

Republican Austerity Responsible For Aborted Fetuses In Flint

If Republicans, the evangelical right, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and personhood movement were as concerned about birth and “the fetus” as they pretend to be, a new report should incite them to outright bloody war – against Republicans. In fact, the above mentioned groups should demand murder charges and the summary executions of every last Michigan Republican who had a hand in poisoning residents of Flint Michigan. But they will never say a word because it was Republicans and a couple of corporate behemoths who caused a drastic decline in fertility rates and aborted fetuses in untold numbers out of sheer greed and criminal coverups to protect a devout pro-life governor and his equally culpable pro-life Republican cohorts.

The scientific and medical community have known for decades that lead is an incredibly toxic mineral as well as that it severely damages fetuses and young children. In fact, in the 18th Century if a woman wanted to terminate a pregnancy, it was not uncommon for them to take lead pills if they were not concerned about their future fertility. Lead is also well known to decrease fertility in men. Where is the religious right’s outrage over their Party’s greed responsible for forcing unwanted abortions?

The report released just this week revealed that Flint saw far fewer pregnancies, and a drastically higher number of fetal deaths than the rest of the state during the time period Flint women and their unborn children were exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking, bathing and cooking water. The new research study reviewed health records from Flint and across the state in order to compare birth and fetal death data to similar data from 15 other large Michigan cities, including Detroit.

The study was conducted by assistant professors and health economists David Slusky of Kansas University and Daniel Grossman from West Virginia University that included examining vital statistics data for Flint and the rest of the state down “to the census-tract level.”

The damning results came from the time period after April 2014 when Republicans purposely switched the safe drinking water supply to the toxic Flint River to save money. That Republican fiscal austerity measure produced fertility rates that decreased by 12 percent among Flint women, and increased fetal death rates by 58 percent. It is noteworthy that Flint women had no choice in aborting their pregnancies; that decision was made for them by austerity-minded pro-life religious Republicans.

It is noteworthy that lead affects male fertility as well as causes irreversible damage to the developing brains and nervous systems of children and fetuses. It also leads to lower intelligence, serious behavioral problems and diminished life achievement; probably like the typical Republican voter. However, those Republican voters, like women, should have a choice in whether or not their lives are adversely affected by Republican economic policies.

To verify that the drop in the fertility rate was due to something other than parents putting off starting a family due to the Republicans’ Great Recession, the researchers went to extreme lengths to discover if the birth rate decline was due to Flint residents’ concern about lead in their drinking water. The researches examined Google data for searches from Flint residents on “lead” and “lead poisoning,” but they found no increases in such searches until September 2015 when it became public knowledge that Flint’s water was poisoned by Republican greed.

One of the study’s authors, David Slusky said:

During most of our time period, when the city and state officials were saying there was no problem, we didn’t see any evidence of knowledge about lead in the water. Either Flint residents were unable to conceive children, or women were having more miscarriages during this time.”

The researchers also noted the similarity of fetal death increases in Flint to those from research done by Edwards in Washington, D.C., after residents there were exposed to elevated lead levels in drinking water from 2000 to 2004. Mr. Slusky remarked that after comparing data from Edwards in Washington, D.C., the evidence if fairly clear that his research teams’ findings were more than similar.

Although the lifetime of damage is already done for affected Flint residents, the good news is that their water supply is now “allegedly” from a clean, lead-free source. The bad news is that a comprehensive investigation last year identified close to “2,000 additional water systems spanning all 50 states where testing has shown excessive levels of lead contamination over the past four years.” (author bold)

Those 2,000 poisoned water systems reported lead levels “exceeding Environmental Protection Agency standards collectively supply water to 6 million people, and 350 of those systems provide drinking water to schools or day cares.” Like the tragedy in Flint, “at least 180 of the water systems failed to notify consumers about the high lead levels as federal rules require.

All of this horrid news is being reported even as Trump and his anti-environment cabal are frantically “rolling back” clean water rules and regulations put in place specifically to prevent these atrocities. It is noteworthy too that the piece of work running the Environmental Protection Agency responsible for keeping Americans safe is a devout evangelical actively opposed to women’s reproductive choices because “the fetus” is sacrosanct.

Where is Scott Pruitt’s religious outrage over his party’s responsibility for the increase in fetal demise in Flint? And why isn’t the pro-life zealot raging about the untold miscarriages within the 2,000 cities with lead-tainted water supplies? Everyone understands that infants and young children permanently damaged by lead doesn’t bother Republicans or the religious right, but regardless that they love a fetus but hate a living child, they are still directly responsible for an untold number of unwanted abortions.

There are evangelical “pro-life” Republicans and their nasty religious right masters who have called for women who choose to terminate a pregnancy to face murder charges, or at least imprisoned for even “harming” a fetus in cases of a woman miscarrying even by accident. What happened in Flint was no accident any more than Michigan Governor Rick Snyder “accidentally” forgot to inform Flint residents they were drinking, bathing,  and cooking with lead-infused water. Snyder claims that human life begins at conception and considers himself a staunch pro-life advocate willing to embrace any means to protect “the fetus” and “the embryo,” and if that is the case he is a raging hypocrite.

Snyder is ultimately responsible for the lead-poisoning that increased “aborted fetuses” by 58 percent in Flint. And to make matters worse, Snyder knew his economic policies were causing the increase in miscarriages and still failed to alert the citizens that he was making the choice to terminate their pregnancies by not alerting women that they were drinking, bathing and cooking with lead-tainted water; all to save money for tax cuts for Snyder’s wealthy supporters.

Image: ABCNews