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Feds now say filtered Flint tap water OK for kids and pregnant women

Tens of thousands of water filters have been distributed in Flint.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Tens of thousands of water filters have been distributed in Flint.

Health officials say filtered Flint tap water is now safe enough for children and pregnant women to drink.

For months, concerns about potential lead exposure from the tap prompted federal, state and local officials to urge kids and pregnant women to only drink bottled water in Flint.

But that recommendation is changing.

Dr. Nicole Lurie is an Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.   She’s leading the federal response to the Flint Water Crisis.

She says months of testing has shown filters are doing a better than expected job of screening lead out of the drinking water, even in at risk homes.

“We finally have enough data to agree that the filters work so well to remove the lead that everyone in Flint, even pregnant women, nursing moms and young children can use filtered water here,” says Lurie.

But Flint residents are wary. They've been told before that their water was safe to drink when it wasn't.

Tom Burke is a science advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. He admits coming up with the data showing filters screen out much of the lead in Flint tap water is only part what authorities have to do.    

“Today we’re presenting that science on how the filters work, but we also acknowledge we need to continue to work with the community to rebuild trust,” says Burke.

To make that connection, Michigan Works will train Flint residents on how to instruct city residents on how to install and maintain filters in their homes.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the success of the filters doesn’t mean people should stop donating bottled water to Flint.    She says there are many instances where people either can’t use filters or don’t have access to tap water, filtered or unfiltered.

“People will need bottled water when they are outside,” Weaver told reporters.

In addition to charities and other private groups, government agencies plan to continue to provide Flint residents with bottle water.

There is still no date for when Flint’s tainted tap water will be safe to drink without a filter.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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