State must prevent lead poisoning -- Anaka Srinivas

July 30, 2018

In 2015, my father showed me a picture of tap water from Flint, Michigan, and asked me where I thought it came from. My answer was a well in Africa.

Imagine my shock, hearing that so many were ingesting that water barely 425 miles away.

Flint is notorious for its water crisis. Lead is toxic to anyone, but especially for children -- 9,000 under the age of six were diagnosed with elevated lead levels in Flint. Lead consumption can lower IQ, cause permanent brain damage, and can even alter one’s DNA. The damage doesn’t stop with one generation.

Childhood lead poisoning is something Wisconsin and Flint share. Wisconsin’s rate of poisoned children was nearly identical to Flint’s in 2016. Milwaukee’s rates of lead poisoning today are four times Flint’s. Madison remains the exception since the replacement of all lead plumbing with copper. It has prevented the contamination that plagues other cities.

Madisonians might be safe, but what about the rest of the state? This is a call to policymakers in Wisconsin and across the country: Don’t let your city become the next Flint. Take preventive measures -- replace lead plumbing. One lead pipe has the potential to jeopardize generations.

Anaka Srinivas, Madison

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