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Environment Magazine September/October 2008


May-June 2018

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The Flint Water Crisis Shows the Need for Long-Term Commitment to Health Care

The Flint, Michigan, drinking-water crisis (“The Paradox of Water and the Flint Crisis,” Bhawani Ven-kataraman, Environment, January/February 2018) is poised to enter the national consciousness and conscience of the United States, in much the same way that contamination by a fatal cocktail of mixed industrial chemicals did for the Love Canal neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York, in the late 1970s, or the dioxin contamination of what is now the ghost town of Times Beach, Missouri, did in the early 1980s (see Matthew C. Nisbet's article “Communicating Climate Change: Why Frames Matter for Public Engagement” and Alan McGowan's accompanying editorial on framing environmental issues in the March/April 2009 issue of Environment). However, the contamination of the Flint, Michigan, drinking water by lead, a developmental neurotoxin, and trihalomethanes, which are carcinogens, differs fundamentally by being carried out, as Venkataraman thoroughly describes, by a public agency upon which the trust of the population ought to have been able to reside. Her article chronicles the crisis, with its causes and implications, in a thoughtful way to which I would like to add one more element, that of extended time.


Steven A. Kolmes is the Rev. John Molter, C.S.C., Chair in Science at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon.

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