Flint’s Lead Water Crisis Ignored By Gov. Rick Snyder

US, unlimited funds to start wars and spy on every human being,  but  no funds to help poor Black communities poisoned by lead tainted water in Flint, Michigan. The impact to the US health system huge unless this crisis is addressed.

Lead poisoning affects  mostly newborns and young children.  It was preventable, yet there is a tainted water crisis in Flint and elected officials including Michigan’s  governor Rick Snyder ignored it.  Why?

Like Zika virus lead poisoning targets the future, our children. Again, we see environmental racism employed as a tool to  damage our children’s brains.

Led by ColorOfChange, please contact your elected officials to demand  funding of CDC’s Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.  Every child has a right to life and health.

The following is a copy and paste letter from the  ColorOfChange.

The world now knows about Flint, and actions are being taken to alleviate the suffering of its residents. Hillary Clinton, calling the Flint water crisis an outrage that has poisoned and disrupted a poor, mostly Black community, has dispatched aides to help find a solution.1 Bernie Sanders has openly called for the resignation of Michigan governor Rick Snyder for his role in allowing this crisis to occur.2 Gov. Snyder has admitted to knowing about the contamination of Flint’s water supply as early as July 2015, yet he did nothing to prevent it.3 Emails released by the governor’s office revealed that not only did he know about the contamination, but that the water switch was motivated by a political agenda rather than financial necessity.4

The Flint water crisis represents the worst possible intersection of racial and economic inequality as well as political exploitation and corruption in the United States. Utility customers in Flint pay some of the highest water bills in the entire state of Michigan, nearly $150 per month.5 Many are now being threatened with utility service cutoffs if they don’t pay expensive, past due bills for lead tainted water.6 The Michigan State National Guard has been activated in order to assist and support residents who would otherwise be without access to clean water.7 And the crisis is far from over, as many thousands have been irrevocably poisoned and will need years of medical care and support. The well-being and vitality of a Black community has been disrupted and imperiled for decades to come.

The lead poisoning crisis is larger than Flint. It connects to the dangers faced by Black communities around the country, who are exposed to dangerous chemicals and environmental hazards every day. Even as we fight for Flint, we must also ensure that the resources are being made available to protect Black children, families, and communities around the country who face similar problems. The austerity politics, undemocratic governance, and racist beliefs that allowed Flint to happen are present and entrenched in many states and cities. By pushing the U.S. government to restore funding for the CDC Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, we can ensure that those in need have access to the help they need and deserve.8 Flint represents a pivotal opportunity to reverse the trend of environmental racism and injustice that has endangered Black communities for too long.

Will you help us take the next step?

Thanks and peace,

–Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Bernard, Brittaney, Evan, and the rest of the ColorOfChange team

See our original email below.

Dear Angela,

Flint, Michigan is in a state of emergency due to a full-scale lead poisoned water crisis.9

Thousands of families in this mostly Black community have been exposed to toxic water, doubling the number of children with dangerous levels of lead in their blood in just one year.10 This is nothing short of a disgrace, a preventable crisis years in the making and the direct result of reckless budget cuts and spending.

Make no mistake, we’re talking about more than haphazard financial management here. For months residents complained about cloudy, foul-smelling water and they were told by local officials that this toxic water could be safely consumed by their families. These officials had every reason to know something was wrong and they did nothing. These are our children, and they deserve better than the treatment they are getting from our government.

And it’s not just in Flint, Michigan where this is happening. Across the US, predominantly Black and low-income communities are at dire risk of severe health problems caused by lead poisoning.11 Lead-tainted homes in Baltimore, Detroit, and other cities, a legacy of toxic neglect and lead poisoning of well over 10,000 children under the age of five in Cleveland.12 Yet despite all of this, federal funding for the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program has been reduced by more than half.13 It’s unacceptable, the federal government needs to take action to ensure that Black and low-income communities are protected from environmental hazards that negatively affect their health and livelihoods.

Tell the US government to restore funding for the CDC Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention program in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

Symptoms of lead poisoning include loss of developmental skills, skin lesions, kidney dysfunction and depression. There is no safe level of lead exposure, and that exposure can cause irreversible damage in children.14 When we talk about protecting Black lives, this does not speak only to preventing the unjust death of Black people at the hands of the police. It speaks also to ensuring that Black people can lead full and healthy lives, with all the rights and protections afforded to them.

Freddie Grey, a victim of police brutality, suffered from chronic health problems caused by lead poisoning via childhood exposure in public housing.15 The state failed Freddie Grey on two counts: safeguarding his health as a child and protecting his rights as an adult. We must rely on the courts to seek justice for Freddie Grey, but we can act now to ensure that no one else suffers from the same health problems that he did.

Add your name to the petition.

Black communities have long been left vulnerable to pollution due to racism and discrimination which constrains their social mobility and economic opportunity. Black people comprise 45% of low-income public housing inhabitants, signifying a deep need for social support programs.16 Yet studies indicate 35% of all low-income housing had significant lead-based paint hazards. Of those with hazards, 1.2 million units housed low-income families (less than $30,000 per year) with children under 6 years of age.17 With each passing day more and more Black families are impacted by lead poisoning, which diminishes their quality of life and impairs their potential.

Will you join us in calling on our government to affirm the value of our lives and well-being at every age and in all aspects?

Thanks and peace,

–Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Bernard, Brittaney, Evan, and the rest of the ColorOfChange team


1. “Flint’s Water Problem Finally Gets Attention During a Debate.” Huffington Post, 01-16-2016 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5786?t=8&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

2. Sanders Calls on Michigan Gov. Snyder to Resign over Flint Water Crisis.” Politico, 01-16-206 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5788?t=10&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

3. “Flint Crisis Response Delayed for Months.” The Detroit News, 01-07-2016 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5778?t=12&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

4. “Gov. Snyder lied; Flint Water Switch was not about Saving Money, Records Show.” Motor City Muckraker, 01-23-2016 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5789?t=14&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

5. “Should Flint Residents Pay for Lead-Poisoned Water?” The Detroit Free Press, 01-15-2016 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5780?t=16&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

6. “Flint Sending Out 1,800 New Notices for Past-Due Water Bills.” Michigan Live, 01-14-2016 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5775?t=18&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

7. “National Guard, Feds, Called to Help get Water to Flint, Michigan Residents.” ABC News, 01-13-2016 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5781?t=20&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

8. “CDC Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program” CDC, 2015 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5782?t=22&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

9. “Flint, Michigan, tried to save money on water. Now its children have lead poisoning.” Vox, 01-06-2016 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5732?t=24&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

10. “In Flint, Mich., there’s so much lead in children’s blood that a state of emergency is declared” The Washington Post, 12-15-2015

11. “Lead paint: Despite progress, hundreds of Maryland children still poisoned” The Baltimore Sun, 12-05-2015

12. “Toxic Neglect: Curing Cleveland’s legacy of lead poisoning” Cleveland.com, 10-20-2015 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5736?t=30&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

13. “Federal Funding for Healthy Homes” National Center for Healthy Homes, 2015

14. “EPA lead standards leave children exposed to harm”. The Hill, 12-03-2015


15. “Freddie Gray’s life a study on the effects of lead paint on poor blacks.” The Washington Post, 04-29-2015 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5739?t=36&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

16. “Housing Spotlight: Who Lives in Federally Assisted Housing?” National Low Income Housing Coalition, November 2012 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5740?t=38&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz

17. “The Prevalence of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in U.S. Housing” Environmental Health Perspectives, October 2002. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5741?t=40&akid=5311.1756703.Wa9oAz


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

1 thought on “Flint’s Lead Water Crisis Ignored By Gov. Rick Snyder

  1. I still remember the Flint water crisis and just how tragic it was. In any sane world, the politicians would’ve been charged with attempted murder with all of that poisoning. The thing is that Flint isn’t the only one to suffer from lead poisoning. That same year the Flint water crisis got mainstream attention, there were two towns in Indiana got hit bad even though they aren’t as big as that aforementioned city in Michigan: East Chicago and Greenwood. The former is a very multiethnic area that would be considered lower-middle class while Greenwood is an upper-middle class predominantly white suburb of Indianapolis. The Indiana government fixed up what happened in Greenwood as fast as they could while East Chicago got ignored. The kicker as to who was the governor of The Hoosier State at the time? Mike Pence. That explains a lot.

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