Startlingly elevated levels of lead were found in the water in Mississippi’s capital in June, but a warning was not issued by government officials until January, the Guardian has learned – a contamination that bears some resemblance to the crisis in Flint, Michigan.
As with Flint, the problem in Jackson appears to be related to inadequate corrosion control, and the months of delay in state action raises shades of Flint, something that Michigan governor Rick Snyder will testify on before a congressional committee on Thursday.
An astonishing 22% of homes in Jackson, Mississippi, exceeded the federal “action” lead level of 15 parts per billion, according to government tests done in June. Compare that with Flint, where researchers from Virginia Tech sampled hundreds of homes as residents begged for help and found 16.7% of homes exceeded the federal “action” lead level, though the sampling methodology may be different in the two cases.
But Mississippi officials did not notify the city of Jackson of the results until January, and it was not until February that the state issued a warning for pregnant women and small children. A sampling of 101 homes in January and February this year showed 11% of homes above the federal lead limit – a number that is still worrisome, under federal regulations.