The only reason that the crisis in Flint, Michigan, was brought to the public’s attention was because of one woman, a pediatrician named Mona Hanna-Attisha, who began noticing the symptoms of lead poisoning in an extremely large number of children from Flint. Dr. Hanna-Attisha went public with this information, which prompted investigations from civil engineers, leading to the unveiling of the problem. At the time of Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s discovery, the contaminated water had been flowing through taps in Flint for two years.
Sadly, Flint is just a tiny piece in a much larger story. Likely the reason the crisis in Flint made national headlines is because of the level of political incompetence that went along with it. But the story did wake people up to the idea that dangerous water could be anywhere, and that led to investigations by reporters who uncovered one of the potentially most overlooked stories of 2016.
On December 19, 2016, Reuters released a startling report about America’s drinking water. Reuters’ investigation concluded that there were nearly 3,000 other locales in the United States where the lead contamination in drinking water was at least double the rates found in Flint’s drinking water. These were not areas where the contamination was the same, or even slightly elevated. No, these 3,000 areas have contamination levels that came in at least twice as high as Flint.