Bills seek to tighten standards for sampling water

Capital News Service
LANSING — Bills in the House and Senate would tighten water sampling practices to improve detection of dangerous elements such as lead. Among the changes proposed would be to eliminate “preflushing” when taking a water sample. Preflushing is the practice of leaving cold water running for a few minutes the night before taking a water sample. Opponents of the practice say running water before testing it does not match how people actually consume water day-to-day. Preflushing “flushes” out the lead that’s stored in a pipe or faucet and as a result, some lead might not be detected in a sample, Robert Gordon, lead lobbyist for the Michigan Sierra Club chapter, said.

Elevated levels of lead in adults unnoticed

Capital News Service
LANSING —  While the Flint water crisis brought national attention to children exposed to lead, a larger group of adults and children with elevated lead levels is mostly ignored, officials say.  
Young children whose parents have elevated blood lead levels are a high-risk group, health experts say. In Michigan, 34 percent of children under 6 with parents who have elevated lead levels also have elevated levels, according to a 2014 report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The lead comes home on the shoes and clothes of the parents who pick it up at work. “The percentage of children in this group is much higher than in Flint,” said  Ken Rosenman, chief of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Michigan State University.

Cities face challenges in getting the lead out

Capital News Service
LANSING – While the lead in Flint’s water captures plenty of attention, another source of the deadly element also threatens Michigan cities and neighborhoods. The demolition of older homes and buildings releases lead into the air, threatening the health of those who live and work near these demolition sites, said Tina Reynolds, health policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council, a Lansing -based coalition of environmental advocacy groups. The lead is contained in old paint and some building materials. “Any structure demolished that is pre-1978 would definitely still have lead dust and be an exposure pathway to the community,” she said. In 2014, that included 64.8 percent of Michigan homes, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Lake Michigan turtles can’t get the lead out

Capital News Service
LANSING — You likely won’t find any painted and snapping turtles headbanging to Metallica in Lake Michigan wetlands. But heavy metal runs in their veins. These turtles accumulate heavy metals in their tissues, according to a recent study in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. Some of those metals come from local industries such as smelters, refineries and foundries, as well as landfills, storm sewers and farm runoff. “There’s reason to believe the levels of metals like cadmium, chromium, copper and lead are impacted by anthropogenic sources,” said Matt Cooper, a research scientist at Northland College’s Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation in Ashland, Wisconsin, and co-author of the study.

Water quality, automated cars stir interest of Michigan voters

Capital News Service
LANSING — The controversy about elevated levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water has sparked significant concern about water quality across Michigan, a new statewide poll shows. More than 90 percent of those surveyed want the state to examine urban water systems for indications of faulty infrastructure and 84 percent want the state to test the water in public schools at least annually. Meanwhile on a second environmental issue, widespread publicity about autonomous cars has directed public attention to questions about the safety of driverless vehicles. Despite qualms about safety, however, a majority of those polled “accept that this will be how people get around in the near future,” according to a Nov. 3-5 telephone survey of 600 Michigan adults.

Environmental group finds toxic chemicals in university promotional items

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan might be a divided house when it comes to college sports but the in-state rivalry might be more toxic than fans know. Both University of Michigan and Michigan State University fan gearcontained varying levels of potentially toxic chemicals, according to a recent study by the Ecology Center, an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit environmental organization. The study examined 65 products for 19 universities bought from prominent retail stores around the country, environmental health campaign director Rebecca Meuninck said. Most University of Michigan products were purchased from a Walgreens in Ann Arbor and most Michigan State University products were purchased from a Kroger in East Lansing. Other universities in the study included University of Wisconsin, University of North Carolina, Duke University and University of Connecticut.