As the Flint Water Crisis ever-so-slowly comes to an end, the effects of the years-long incident are still coming to light. According to a new study by Kansas University and West Virginia University, researchers found that after the city of Flint began using the Flint River as its main water source in April 2014 (and did not add anti-corrosives to the water), fertility rates dropped and fetal death rates spiked among the city’s residents.
According to researchers, there is no safe level of lead to consume, and the adverse effects (which are irreversible) of the substance are exacerbated if experienced by a child or fetus, which leads to brain and nervous system impairments. The new Flint study compared Flint’s data to that of 15 other Michigan cities, as health economist David Slusky told the Detroit Free Press:
On fertility rates, “Flint’s numbers fell off a cliff, and the rest of the cities stayed pretty much constant” after April 2014, Slusky said.
“We weren’t particularly surprised by this, but we didn’t expect it be as clean and clear as it was.”
Slusky’s research found that sexual activity did not decline during the period of time between the water switch and the dangerous lead levels becoming public knowledge over a year later. “Either Flint residents were unable to conceive children, or women were having more miscarriages during this time,” Slusky said.
The babies that were born during this period tended to skew female (male fetuses are more fragile). In addition and compared to babies born over the same time period in different cities, these babies tended to be underweight and premature.
(Via Detroit Free Press)