State outlines initiatives to determine safe drinking levels and to provide long-term assistance to Flint children

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January 31, 2016

Strategies to determine when Flint’s water is safe to drink and to ensure that the city’s children have access to comprehensive health care are key to the state’s long-term solutions in the Flint water crisis.
Short-term, Gov. Rick Snyder is urging every Flint resident to get a water test kit.
“Almost 5,000 homes submitted water tests, but we want to encourage everyone to submit a water test. Please pick up a free water test kit at one of the Flint fire stations and return the sample to the same location,” Snyder said.  “We want to ensure that all homes are getting the proper immediate attention and the home water tests will help in that process. If you need assistance, please call United Way 2-1-1 for help.”
In addition to the federal emergency declaration, which was granted on Jan. 16, Snyder has requested more federal help for Flint: “While the USDA denied my request to expand WIC nutrition support for Flint children ages 5-10, I’m asking that agency to reconsider. I’m also encouraging the federal government to grant my requests to extend Medicaid eligibility to all Flint residents ages 21 and under, provide long-term health care services for children and help with lead abatement.”
On Friday, Snyder signed legislation that will allocate $28 million for more water resources and expanded health care initiatives, including more school nurses, diagnostic tests and community education through the Genesee County Health Department. He also plans to include additional long-term aid for Flint in his FY 2017 budget proposal to be unveiled early this month.
Here’s what key Michigan departments are doing to help with the Flint water emergency:


Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has embarked on a five-part strategy to establish a baseline of data to determine when the water is safe to drink.

The strategy includes:

 Residential water testing: At-home water testing done by residents is key in guiding experts to areas of concern.

To date, of 4,924 total residential water samples, tests show that 93.7 percent of homes are below the actionable level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead:

  • 4,616 samples at 15 ppb or less for lead (93.7%);
  • 4,179 samples at 5 ppb or less for lead (84.9%);
  • 308 samples over 15 ppb for lead (6.3%);
  • 37 samples over 150 ppb for lead (0.75%); and
  • 26 samples over 1,300 ppb for copper (0.5%).

Water samples will only be accepted by using the official water testing kits provided at the water resource sites and by the water response teams. To process these samples as efficiently as possible, the Michigan Department DEQ lab is operating seven days per week and is capable of processing 1,000 tests per day.  Residents can access these reports online at  Results are mailed to each residence tested.

  • School testing: Michigan DEQ in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has tested all 13 public schools in the city and continues to test non-public schools, children’s centers and senior centers. The state will retest the public schools once it has completed replacing water fixtures. Fixture replacement has begun at Freeman School, which will be retested after water flushing happens within the next week.
  • Food service/restaurant provider testing: Michigan DEQ is working in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to test establishments and ensure they are using water filters, flushing water systems properly and using the correct food and water standards.
  • Blood level testing: Michigan DEQ is working in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to ensure that residents with high blood lead levels have their water tested for lead. Homes with high water lead levels are provided additional services by MDHHS and the Genesee County Health Department to ensure residents’ exposure to lead is minimized.
  • Flint water distribution system testing: Michigan DEQ and the City of Flint are working to monitor and test the quality of the water as it travels throughout the city’s water distribution system. Additionally, sentinel sites are being established to set a baseline for data collection.

Michigan DEQ is working with the EPA on trend analysis and data sets that will be reviewed by the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee, which includes water quality experts to help local, state and federal officials provide a consensus conclusion on water quality and safety.


Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

In response to the elevated blood lead levels found in some Flint children, the MDHHS has worked closely with partners at the state and local level to reach and educate families and providers about what they can do to help protect the health of Flint residents.
These actions include funding to Genesee County Health Department for nurses to work with families when an elevated blood lead level has been detected. During follow-up visits, nurses coordinate with environmental health investigators to meet with families in their homes to identify lead exposures, answer questions and provide water filters.

As part of the effort to test Flint residents, the following data includes all children and adults tested since Oct. 1, 2015:

  • 67 of 3,351 Flint residents tested showed an elevated blood lead level;
  • 38 of 1,505 children under the age of 6 showed an elevated blood lead level;
  • Seven of 963 children between 6 and 17 years of age showed an elevated blood lead level; and
  • 22 of 883 adults over the age of 18 showed an elevated blood lead level.

Because lead stays in the blood for only a few weeks after exposure, these numbers do not provide a comprehensive picture of how many people may have been exposed. MDHHS continues to focus on ensuring that all children in Flint have access to additional behavioral, educational, nutritional and healthcare supports, as well as encouraging every resident to get tested for elevated blood lead levels.


Emergency Management Response

Today, water response teams comprised of city, county and state personnel, American Red Cross and volunteers continued door-to-door delivery efforts. These teams are canvassing neighborhoods providing free bottled water, filters, water replacement cartridges and water testing kits to City of Flint water system consumers not yet identified as having a water filter.  These door-to-door efforts also include the 266 homes outside of the city limits on the municipal water system.
Additionally, homebound residents who need supplies should call United Way 2-1-1 or 810-257-3600. The United Way 2-1-1 is collecting a list of individuals needing home delivery and is providing that information to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department. 
Since Jan. 9, 2016, the following resources have been distributed to residents, both at the water resource sites and by water response teams:

  • 234,490 cases of water
  • 100,593 water filters
  • 32,093 water testing kits


Water resource sites remain open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and can be found at the five city fire stations. For locations, go to

Due to an overwhelming response from individuals who want to donate, please direct inquiries to or 517-420-4162. You can also donate online at

Additional information is available at,  or by calling United Way 211.