Legionnaires' Disease In Flint Tap Water: What You Need To Know
Eric Roy, Ph.D.
A new report was released which confirmed that an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Flint, Michigan that killed 12 people and sickened at least 87 during 2014 and 2015 was likely caused by low chlorine levels in the municipal water system. It's another example of Flint's broader water crisis that resulted from widespread incompetence and fraud. We will add to this article as more questions come in.
What Is Legionnaires' Disease?
Legionnaires is a pneumonia, caused the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. Legionella pneumophila grows in water, and can enter the lungs through tiny water droplets. If a person doesn't have a robust immune system, they can become very sick, or even die.
Where Is Legionella Found?
According to Marc Edwards (A professor at Virginia Tech), Legionella is found in about 25 percent of all water samples collected nationally. It's a common bacterium, but it's usually kept under control in municipal water.
How Is Legionella Typically Controlled In Municipal Tap Water
In properly treated municipal water, Legionella is kept under control by chlorine-based disinfectants, so the bacterium cannot reach dangerous levels. In Flint, it appears that not enough chlorine was added to the water to leave enough residual chlorine to keep the bacterium under control, which is what caused the Legionnaires' outbreak in Flint.
Is Flint Still At Risk Of Legionnaires Disease?
According to Edwards, chlorine in Flint's water is now at the correct level, so the likelihood of Legionnaires' disease popping back up is minimal. It is our opinion at Hydroviv that concerned Flint residents should take every piece of advice issued by Dr. Edwards. If he says that there is enough chlorine, there is enough chlorine.Other Articles We Think You'll Enjoy:
3 Years Of Hell: Reflections of a Flint Water Crisis Victim
Largely Unreported Water Quality Crisis Underway In Flint Michigan
Tap Water Chlorination: What You Need To Know
Does Boiling My Water Purify It?
Hydroviv's Science Team
Our tech support team gets a lot of questions from people looking to purify their water by boiling or freezing it. Doing a quick web search, we learned that there is A LOT of bad information out there on the topic.
Will Boiling Or Freezing My Water Remove Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, PFAS, & Chromium 6?
No! Unfortunately, freezing or boiling water to purify it does not remove chemicals like lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium 6, PFAS, or barium. The only way to remove these chemicals is by using a quality water filtration system. If you'd like to find water filters that remove harmful contaminants from tap water, check out this Duke University/NC State water filter study. We have our favorite NSF/ANSI certified custom water filter, but there are other effective systems out there as well!
What Does Boiling My Water Protect Against?
In the United States, we are very fortunate that modern disinfection practices have nearly eliminated widespread waterborne illness. However, sometimes unplanned things do happen (e.g. water main breaks) which opens up an opportunity for biological contamination. When this happens, municipalities may issue a boil order or notice, because boiling water kills potentially dangerous microorganisms.
What Does Freezing My Water Protect Against?
Freezing things slows down the growth of bacteria, and is the reason why frozen foods can be stored for long periods of time.
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