Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Bad for you, inside and out
Can you imagine being afraid to use your water supply for anything? That is a growing problem in Flint, Michigan as people are avoiding all water use because of reported skin and hair problems.
Two years after Flint switched the source of its water, setting off a citywide health crisis, residents are still dealing with bottled water, filters and the inconvenience of living without safe drinking water. But near the top of the list of daily challenges that residents face is how and where to shower.As yet the cause has not been determined, but whether the cause is in the water or in the minds of the residents, it is a very real problem that needs to be addressed.
Reports of rashes, itchiness and hair loss are widespread, despite assurances from government scientists that they have not found any evidence that the city’s lead-tainted water is unsafe for bathing.
The complaints are so persistent — and the anxiety is so high — that Dr. Nicole Lurie, an assistant secretary at the United States Department of Health and Human Services who is coordinating the federal recovery effort here, said she had asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency to work with the state on investigating whether the water quality was contributing to skin problems.
Many residents are convinced that showering in the water is harmful. Some have taken to bathing infrequently, dashing into and out of the shower once a week with their mouths tightly shut. Others wash only with baby wipes — or, if they can, at the homes of friends or relatives outside Flint. Many said they mourned the loss of the long, hot showers of their past.
“You wonder what you’re stepping into when you’re getting into the shower and just trying to make it as quick as possible,” said the Rev. Rigel J. Dawson, pastor of the North Central Church of Christ, where some members have been trying to help others find places outside the city to bathe. “That uncertainty really kind of plays on you after a while; it wears you down.”
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