The crisis of contaminated water from the taps affects more Hispanic and African American communities

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver speaks to residents during a town hall on water, public safety and job opportunities on March 17, 2016 in Flint, Michigan.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver speaks to residents during a town hall on water, public safety and job opportunities on March 17, 2016 in Flint, Michigan.

Photo: Brett Carlsen / Getty Images

Aging pipes and chemical pollution affect entire populations from Michigan to Virginia, and is greatest in African-American and Hispanic communities, The Wall Street Journal reports.

This crisis began in 2014 when in Flint, Michigan, the source of the water in the city changed, causing the water to smell bad and turn brown. Before the complaints of the population, the authorities assured at that time that the water was safe for human consumption.

However, the scientists revealed that the water contained high levels of lead.

The Michigan water crisis has not been the only one, the problem of contamination of drinking water has occurred in Washington, DC, Chicago and Newark, whose populations have also been affected by lead in their water systems.

“The fundamental problem with drinking water is that we continue to live off the investments made by our great-grandparents,” said Erik Olson, senior director of the Council for the Defense of Natural Rights.

Olson told the WSJ that most drinking water is still delivered in pipes that are many decades old and still treat the water with World War I-era technology.

Olson explains that the technology used is not up to the task of supplying drinking water efficiently. He explained that sand filters cannot trap all pollutants and concrete and cast iron pipes, which are mostly 125 years old.

It is estimated that each year, there are more than 250,000 reports of broken drinking water pipes in the U.S. This could cause pathogens to contaminate water before it reaches homes.

In Toledo, the newspaper recalls, the toxic threat came from an algae bloom in Lake Erie, and in Charleston, from a chemist who processes coal, after leaking from a storage tank. Even after cities installed more advanced filtration systems or other expensive solutions to avoid similar failures, many residents remain wary of drinking from their taps.

The main problem in the supply of drinking water through damaged or leaking pipes are perfluoroalkylated and polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS), for their acronym in English.

These toxic substances, also known as “eternal chemicals,” have been found in excess in US water systems that reach more than 6 million people, and the highest levels of these contaminants are found near industrial sites. , military bases and wastewater treatment plants.

But all is not lost, there could soon be more resources to improve the country’s water system. According to the infrastructure project that the Senate approved last August, about $ 50 billion will be allocated to improve the water distribution system.

This includes the replacement of around 6 to 10 million lead pipes.

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