“FLINT, Mich.—Melissa Mays looks around the emergency room at a frail, elderly man in a wheelchair and a woman with a hacking cough and can’t quite believe she’s here. Until a few months ago, she was healthy—an active mother of three boys who found time to go to the gym while holding down a job as a media consultant and doing publicity for bands.
But lately, she’s been feeling sluggish. She’s developed a rash on her leg, and clumps of her hair are falling out. She ended up in the emergency room last week after feeling “like [her] brain exploded,” hearing pops, and experiencing severe pain in one side of her head.
Mays blames her sudden spate of health problems on the water in her hometown of Flint. She says it has a blue tint when it comes out of her faucet, and lab results indicate it has high amounts of copper and lead. Her family hasn’t been drinking the water for some months, but they have been bathing in it, since they have no alternative.
…The city says it does not know why so much lead was found in Walters’ pipes, but Edwards has a theory: Many cities have lead pipes, and when water sits in those pipes, the lead can leech into the water. So cities usually add corrosion-control chemicals, such as phosphates, to keep the lead out of the water. But because Flint didn’t take such precautions when they began pumping their own water, “the public health protection was gone,” Edwards says.”