Emergency Manager Law, Emergency Managers, Flint, Rick Snyder — September 22, 2017 at 11:51 am

Experts: #FlintWaterCrisis led to Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak and “horrifyingly large” drop in fertility rates

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Testimony in the first day of the preliminary examination for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, facing felony charges in the Flint Water Crisis, revealed that health experts believe the switch to the Flint River was the cause of the huge increase in cases of Legionnaires’ Disease in the beleaguered city:

“My opinion is the most plausible, most likely explanation, is that the change in the water was responsible for an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases,” said Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of infectious disease for Henry Ford Health System.

Here’s what he’s talking about:

As bad as that is, a new study by economists David J.G. Slusky from University of Kansas and Daniel S. Grossman & David J.G. Slusky from West Virginia University show a “horrifyingly large” drop in fertility rates in women following the switch to the Flint River for Flint’s drinking water:

Our results suggest that women in Flint following the water change had a general fertility rate (GFR) of approximately 7.5 live births per 1,000 women aged 15-49 fewer than control women of the same age group, or a 12.0 percent decrease. Because the higher lead content of the new water supply was unknown at the time, this decrease in GFR is likely a reflection of an increase in fetal deaths and miscarriages and not a behavior change in sexual behavior related to conception like contraceptive use. […]

Edwards (2014) studies an increase in lead in drinking water in Washington, D.C. in the early 2000s, and using somewhat different methods finds a 12% decrease in the fertility rate and a 32-63% increase in the fetal death rate. The magnitude of the fertility rate decrease that we find is identical to Edwards’s result, and our fetal death result (a 58% increase), while horrifyingly large, is within Edwards’s range. […]

[O]ver our study window of 17 months (births conceived from November 2013 through March 2015) between 198 and 276 more children would have been born had Flint not enacted the switch in water.

Here’s what they are talking about:


Image from study by Daniel S. Grossman & David J.G. Slusky, West Virginia University & University of Kansas

The author’s describe this chart this way: “Given the moving average, the vertical line is for April 2013, which is the last conception date for which no affected birth rates are included in the moving average.” April 2013 is when the switch to the Flint River occurred.

These are the unintended consequences of decisions made by people without the proper training to be making decisions of this magnitude. They were made to save money, the primary driver of essentially ALL decisions made by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s appointed Emergency Managers. I have said time and time again that Emergency Managers have no tools of CONstruction in their tool shed. They have only tools of DEstruction. Tools to cut, to decimate, to outsource. The outcome in Flint is the that people lost their lives to a policy of “running government like a business”.

It’s time to replace Republicans in our state government so we can overturn this anti-democratic, un-American law once and for all and consign it to its rightful place on the rubbish heap of history.

  • BurinMRB

    I’m looking forward to Michigan becoming famous for something more beneficial than the Flint Water Crisis.

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