Buried in an article on an interior page in the Sunday, Oct. 8, MLive/Flint Journal under a headline on a different issue is the contention of a Virginia Tech water crisis expert that it’s safe to take baths and showers in the Vehicle City.
VTU professor Marc Edwards, who helped expose what has become known as the ‘Flint Water Crisis’ two years ago, used himself as a guinea pig, taking a 20-minute shower and then a 20-minute bath in the leaded water, according to an article by FJ reporter Ron Fonger.
Edwards’s experiment was designed to measure the effect of taking a shower or bath in water with allegedly high lead levels. The professor first “took a 20-minute hot shower in the leaded water using an ‘ultra-flow’ 0.5 gallon-per-minute showerhead that maximizes aerosols, then took a 20-minute bath in the leaded water to maximize possible skin absorption,” according to a post Fonger found on the Flint Water Study website.
“Human exposure and lead uptake was assessed with 3 sequential urine samples immediately before and after showering,” the post says, but there was “no significant increase/change in urine lead.”
Fonger writes that Edwards emailed the FJ that he performed the showering and bathing experiment because of “repeated false public statements (that) have been made about supposed dangers from showering in Flint water due to chloroforms and particulate lead.”
Fonger reports that the professor’s statement says “every scientific group in the country acknowledges that breathing particulate lead in shower water is not a significant exposure pathway.”
The rest of Fonger’s article covers last week’s story that lead fishing sinkers had been found in the faucet of a home from which a woman had solicited online donations, claiming she had been “poisoned” by high levels of lead in her water.
Since then, the FJ has written nothing about its efforts to determine the “how or why” of the story, or how widespread this phenomenon might have been in Flint other than to say that the woman and her attorney had “declined comment to The Journal.”
Observers agree that it would be surprising if anything more is forthcoming from MLive on this story.