A catastrophe has occurred in the city of Flint Michigan. In April 2014, Flint changed its water source for its residents from Detroit and began to use the Flint River to save money (Washington Post). When the change occurred, it was reported that there was uncertainty about the water quality. The governor assured the residents that it was a prominent water source and that the water would be tested. Residents began complaining about the taste of the water, the smell, and the color. It was reported that Flint switched back to getting its water from Detroit, but by then they had already been consuming the contaminated water for 19 months. There was nothing that could reverse what has been done. It was found that the Flint River had leached lead from the city’s pipes more than Detroit did. Researchers have found children with triple the amount of lead in their blood. Lead exposure in children negatively affects IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement (Switchboard). A group of Virginia Tech researchers sampled 271 Flint homes and found lead levels that meet the EPAs definition of toxic waste. They found levels as high as 13,00 parts per billion (Washington Post).
Lead poisoning has also occurred in Nigeria in June 2010. It was first noticed as ducks were going missing or not returning to the water. High levels of lead have been found in the water in six villages in Zamfara, close to where the residents were illegally mining for gold. It was found that the lead was coming home with the miners on their clothing and in the rocks they brought home to mine for gold. The lead poisoning has killed more 160 people, 111 of them are children. The children were suffering from vomiting, abdominal pain, headaches, and seizures. An organization called The Dutch arm of Doctors Without Borders brought in drugs to treat villagers that were found to have high levels of lead in their blood. Also noting changes in animals can help provide early warnings of the presence of dangerous chemicals or diseases in the water(New York Times) .
There has been a recent invention that could help save citizens from drinking or using contaminated water. Researchers in Singapore have developed a robotic swan that collects data about water quality in an effort to efficiently monitor reservoirs (Sciencedaily). This is new technology that can be used to test the water quality and detect levels of lead. This could save lives around the world and help keep citizens safe.