Harold Harrington is a master plumber. Fixing people’s pipes is what he does. But it was something he found in his own home in Flint, Michigan that worried him.
“That came from my house,” says Harrington, holding a small piece of pipe in one hand. “That piece of galvanized was in my basement. It fed my upstairs faucet and that’s from my upstairs bathroom. … It’s full of lead.”
Harrington is among the tens of thousands of Flint residents whose contaminated drinking water is a focus of threat to communities across the United States.
Flint’s lead crisis began in 2014 when the city’s drinking water source was switched to save money. Water from the new spring was improperly treated and damaged old pipes that leached lead into drinking water.
Lead can damage the brain and kidneys. Of particular concern is the effect lead can have on young children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says exposure to lead can slow development in children under 7, leading to learning and behavioral problems.
President Biden has proposed a more than $ 2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan that includes billions to replace the country’s lead water pipes. When he announced his American employment plan in April, the president cited Flint’s problems as a cautionary story about the dangers of infrastructure decay.
“Everyone remembers what happened in Flint,” said Biden. “There are hundreds of Flints all over America.”
But Flint is also an example…