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Go on in, the water’s probably fine!


In response to a NYT article noting that federal authorities continue to say the water in Flint, Mich. isn’t safe, a man who has written extensively about the dangers of lead exposure stoked his chin with great care.

I understand the need for caution, as well as the obvious distrust that Flint residents have for official pronouncements that everything is now hunky-dory. But

Having ignored the warning that was the headline, I really ought to have turned back here. But commentotator Marduk went to the trouble of sharing it, so I continued.

I wonder if this has paralyzed us in a way that’s now causing more harm than good?

I wonder what dude living in California where the tap water isn’t poison means by us?

There have been more than 13,000 residential tests of Flint’s water since the beginning of the year, and it sure looks to me like the water is now pretty safe.

And try this Dole salad, it’s pretty safe too!

Actually, the latest listeria outbreak is a rotten analogy. People don’t have to eat Dole salads. Water isn’t optional and when one has to hedge while discussing the safety of water, one had better not be suggesting anyone drink it.

But Drum mentioned harm. Perhaps he found that not drinking Flint’s water creates some terrible deadly danger that can only be mitigated by drinking it.

Perhaps you’d like to try these deviled eggs that have been sitting on top of the fridge all day. (They look pretty safe to me!)

Drum never gives an example of the harm. Instead, he gives us a chart.

The chart below shows weekly lead readings compared to the end of 2015 and early 2016. The only thing I’ve done is remove eight readings over 3,000 ppb, since those outliers can affect the averages in misleading ways. Since the middle of January, there hasn’t been a single week in which the average was over 15 ppb, which is the usual level of concern. The average over the entire period since mid-January is 9.05 ppb.

The chart shows that during the first half of January the average level was at 19 ppb (parts per billion). The EPA’s action level for lead is 15. The average dropped to 6 for the latter half of the month, but trended upwards to 15 ppb at the end of February.

In other words, the average level of lead in the tap water is fluctuating between safe and not safe in short periods of time. Suggesting it is OK to drink is something that should be left to the libertarian bunny stranglers.

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