Back in 2014, the community of Flint, Michigan, was inundated with a public health crisis of severe proportions.
In April of that year, officials switched the city’s water supply from the Detroit River and Lake Huron to the Flint River. In the process, though, the new water was not properly treated.
So, practically every Flint resident was exposed to drinking water that carried unsafe levels of disinfection byproducts, bacteria, and lead– a dangerous neurotoxicant.
And unfortunately, this crisis was not short-lived. Instead, the city’s drinking water was not deemed lead-free until nearly three years later, in January of 2017.
This prolonged water crisis also left tens of thousands of adults and children facing serious health complications. More specifically, they developed high levels of lead in their blood which put them at a significantly higher risk for mental health problems, cognitive health deficits, and long-term health complications.
Despite the city of Flint regaining access to safe drinking water and maintaining safe lead levels for the past five years, though, community members have still been left with severe trauma.
This finding and more were discovered in a recent study conducted by Duke University. There, researchers piloted the largest mental health survey of the Flint community to date and found that about one in five adults has clinical depression. This equates to about thirteen thousand and six hundred people.
Additionally, a striking one in four residents– or fifteen thousand people– are believed to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“We know that large-scale natural or human-caused disasters can trigger or exacerbate depression and PTSD. What we did not know until now was the extent to which Flint residents continued to have mental health problems at the clinical diagnosis five years after the crisis began,” explained Dean Kilpatrick, the study’s senior author.
Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.